Cuyahoga National Park is bigger than it seems. It’s south of Ohio’s largest city Cleveland and is threaded through with trails that attract avid hikers in nice weather. One trail follows the Cuyahoga River all the way to where it empties into Lake Erie in Cleveland. This river was once known for active fires on its surface. The Environmental Protection Agency was created as a result of this unfortunate industrial situation.
There are about 100 waterfalls in Cuyahoga National Park but few villages. The largest village called Peninsula has become the nominal capital of the area. Peninsula has lots of charm. Many people like it and find this crossroads village of about 600 their favorite attraction. It’s about halfway between Cleveland and Akron, the city at the south end of Cuyahoga National Park. The only other village in this park is Boston Mill. Peninsula’s downtown historic district contains an ancient depot, lots of 18th century buildings, a few stores, and 2 restaurants. It was named for a bend in the Cuyahoga River. The Cuyahoga River flows through Peninsula, and the reverse S-shaped bend is just north of this village.
Boston Mill, a village about half the size of Peninsula, is just up the road from it. It might have become the larger town, but it faltered slightly after the Cleveland to Akron Canal opened in 1827 and went later into decline. Two things now dominate this true village called Boston Mill. The railroad revived it and the National Park Visitor Center located there.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway fascinates me. It reminds me of the Erie Canal that crossed New York State a bit later. This Canalway was one of George Washington’s better ideas, and this canal was once called “The little ditch that changed the world”. Once completed, this inland water route that connected New Orleans to New York City through Ohio put our new nation on the global map. Dug by hand in the 1820s and 30s, this canal that was 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep transformed Ohio from a struggling frontier state into one of the richest and most populous states in the nation. It literally changed our nation’s history. Part of the reason why 7 Presidents came from Ohio during this era is somewhat attributable to this canal. It almost turned this area into a virtual Eastern seaport for our nation.
The growth of Akron into Ohio’s 5th largest city happened because of this canal. Today a city of about 200,000 people, Akron became the rubber capital of the world. Goodyear, Firestone, and General Tire were in this city only 40 miles south of Cleveland.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Ruth & I were in Cuyahoga National Park before it was a national park. The world-famous Blossom Music Festival is entirely in it.