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Cleaning Up the Cuyahoga


In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire. This was hardly the first time. It had happened several times actually. In fact, it was so not notable that there are no known images of the fire. It was too commonplace. But nationally, thanks to a Time article about it, it became a huge event in the lead-up to cleaning up our waterways. The author of that story had to dig up a picture of one of the old fires, seen above, which has commonly been thought of as of the 1969 fire, but it’s not. In any case, there is a new 12 minute documentary about the remarkable clean-up of the Cuyahoga. At times, it gets a bit too close to Cleveland boosterism for my tastes, but it is a good overview of what has been a major environmental success and with a discussion of continuing challenges, particularly a worthless dam that were it taken down would provide, according to the video, one of the best whitewater stretches east of the Mississippi.

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