Nov. 8, 2011
“The Return of the Cuyahoga River”
Sunday June 22nd 1969, it was an almost perfect Sunday afternoon in Cleveland Ohio; 80 degrees, clear skies, with no rain in sight, and the wind was clam if not completely unnoticeable. Out of nowhere the BOOM, BANG, flames and smoke filled the air and river. This explosion didn’t come from a boat or building, but the Cuyahoga River itself. To have a full understanding of the reason behind this fire there must be a full understanding of the river and its history. The Cuyahoga River is pretty short only 100 miles ending dumping out into Lake Erie. As every river it is cricked, shallow in places, and narrow. It flows south then to the north. In 1769 a group of surveyors led by General Moses Cleveland traveled to Northeast Ohio towards Lake Erie and drew lines for different lots and towns. One of these towns struggled through settlements on a useless river this town is Cleveland. The mouth of this river was full of swamps and malaria mosquitos, all this ended up blocking the mouth of the river causing a slow flow into Lake Erie; they say this actually retarded the town.
In 1827 they made the first epic change; they began by widening the mouth by a half a mile, went through and straightened out parts of the river. The channels became deeper and at the same time they built new canals for Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Cleveland became a bustling city. Throughout the 1800s and mid 1900s companies made changes to the river in order to best suit their business. They lined the last four miles with steel bulkheads making it more like a bathtub then a river. They built many bridges throughout Cleveland and upstream they put in dams which held back flow.
The 19th century brought the industrial evolution and Cleveland just happened to be the center of the evolution. The different companies range from oil, paint, steel, and varnish to beer and other goods. By 1920 there were 2 billion...