Friday, August 24, 2012

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

We finally made it out of Dayton by late afternoon on Wednesday.  Some small glitches popped up in the process of checking our motor home out of the repair shop, and then, when hooking our car to the rig, a fuse was discovered to be broken.  We pumped gas and discovered we were over-charged, all those little problems blew the majority of our day.  We did not drive into the Akron area and get parked until it was dusk.  Our main goal, while in this area, was to see Ohio's only national park.  It lies between Cleveland and Akron and has 33,000 miles of valley along a 22-mile section of the Cuyahoga River.  The river was given that name by Native Americans-  it means crooked, which the 100-mile river is as it twists and turns its way through Northeast Ohio.  In the park is the location of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath, in the early 1800s that path was used by mules as they towed canal boats loaded with passengers and basic goods to eastern markets.  The trail has many features of the old canal, as well as other historical structures along its restored path.  Old locks can be found which raised and lowered boats through elevation changes.  Pictured below is a piece of Lock 26, also known as the Pancake Lock.  It was in operation 1827-1913.  In the flood of 1828 canal boats were stranded at this lock and cornmeal pancakes became the only food supply.
Despite being an urban park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park abounds in natural beauty. Wetland, forests and fields can be found within its boundaries.  One cannot visit this park without seeing Brandywine Falls. 
American beaver, missing from the American ecosystem for 150 years, has returned and, by damming up the Cuyahoga river, they created new wetland habitats in the park.  In 1964 the marsh was an automobile salvage yard, after it was flooded by beavers the Sierra Club cleared out the debris and it became the beautiful marsh it is today.  We walked the boardwalk through the wetland and were amazed by all the birds, turtles, frogs, fish and even one great blue heron which we saw there.  We were told that the beavers appear at dusk.
It is possible to see some of the beauty of this park by riding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which runs between Cleveland and Canton.  The train is equipped with a baggage car to carry bicycles for a one-way train ride paired with a bike ride on the Towpath Trial.  We had no time for that adventure, but did hike the Ledges Trail before leaving the park.  Along that path are large sandstone cliffs.

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