Bring your students aboard Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) for an educational program while riding through Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).
All Aboard for Animals
All Aboard for Animals invites you to climb aboard and journey through your national park by rail. Peering outside the windows of the train you may catch the glimpse of a white tailed deer running from our train, a lodge constructed by hard working beavers, or a great blue heron soaring over the valley. Through the use of American Indian stories, pelts, and skulls we’ll explore the railroad that runs through CVNP and the animals who call this valley home.
Transportation in the Valley
The Cuyahoga Valley has been used as a transportation corridor from prehistoric to modern times. The topography of the valley has presented challenges that have been overcome by individual efforts and changing technologies. The result of these factors has left its impression on the land and the people who live here.
In 1825, Ohio saw a surge of workers digging, cutting stone, and plying timber to create a new age for a youthful state. By 1832, the canal reached the Ohio River in Portsmouth. This first national inland waterway connected Ohio with markets from New York City to New Orleans fueling the growth of a national economy. The canal attracted businesses and industries to its banks, spawning the growth of villages and cities making Ohio the third richest state in the union.
The popularity of the Ohio & Erie Canal wained in the mid 1800s as development of railroads increased throughout the state. Soon it was the iron horse that carried goods and people throughout the valley, leaving the slower moving canal boats behind. Railroad steam was first seen in the Cuyahoga Valley in 1880. Fueling the industrial revolution, the Valley Railway transported coal from central Ohio to factories in Cleveland and Akron. Valley residents used the line for transportation, and depots became a hub of small town life.
Eventually railroads would give way to automobiles, and bridges would scale the valley as the pace of transportation increased once again.
The Underground Railroad and Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 gave the National Park Service the honor of preserving the stories of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) throughout this nation. Northeast Ohio played a pivotal role in the abolitionist movement and the UGRR. CVNP shares these special stories of conflict, adaptability, ingenuity, and interdependence.
The UGRR is a mixture of historical facts and myth. Begun by Quakers in the late 1700s, it existed until the Civil War. The UGRR encompassed every slave to tried to escape, slaves who offered food and direction, runaway slaves who returned south to help others escape, and free blacks and whites who joined to assist others in their quest for freedom. Most slaves were headed north toward the safety of Canada, traveling by any means available. The Ohio & Erie Canal was a possible route followed by runaway slaves. The 308-mile canal that connected the Ohio River to Lake Erie, which had to be crossed to reach Canada and freedom, parallels the train track and can be seen out the windows.
Many times the runaway slaves traveled to freedom with little help. Others were assisted by abolitionists, people who believed that slavery should be ended. These abolitionists risked large fines and prison time to assist runaway slaves. Antislavery organizations, abolitionist newspapers, and lecturers made Northeast Ohio a hotbed of abolitionist activities.
Departing and Arriving Times
Schools should arrive at the boarding station by 10 a.m. Your group will be greeted by park rangers and national park volunteers who will provide an introduction to the day’s program. After a brief outside activity your group will board CVSR at 10:30 a.m. for a 1.5-hour journey through the national park.
Self-Guided Trail Activities
The National Park Service encourages school groups to explore the trails of the national park. Park Rangers will have trail activities available for teachers who wish to take their students out on the trail at the conclusion of the program. Please contact Park Ranger Pamela Machuga if you would like a copy of the activities prior to your arrival at e-mail us or (330) 657-1914.
For more information about the CVSR, go to www.cvsr.com.
To schedule CVSR education programs, call (330) 657-1905.