Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area

The valley began providing recreation for urban dwellers in the 1870s when people came from nearby cities for carriage rides or leisure boat trips along the canal. In 1880, the Valley Railroad became another way to escape urban industrial life. Actual park development began in the 1910s and 1920s with the establishment of Cleveland and Akron metropolitan park districts. In 1929 the estate of Cleveland businessman Hayward Kendall donated 430 acres (170 ha) around the Richie Ledges and a trust fund to the state of Ohio. Kendall's will stipulated that the "property should be perpetually used for park purposes". It became Virginia Kendall park, in honor of his mother. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the park's infrastructure including what are now Happy Days Lodge and the shelters at Octagon, Ledges, and Kendall Lake.

Although the regional parks safeguarded certain places, by the 1960s local citizens feared that urban sprawl would overwhelm the Cuyahoga Valley's natural beauty. Active citizens joined forces with state and national government staff to find a long-term solution. Finally, on December 27, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the bill establishing the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service acquired the 47-acre (19 ha) Krejci Dump in 1985 to include as part of the recreation area. They requested a thorough analysis of the site's contents from the Environmental Protection Agency. After the survey identified extremely toxic materials, the area was closed in 1986 and designated a superfund site.  Litigation was filed against potentially responsible parties, which included Ford, GM, Chrysler, 3M, and Waste Management of Ohio. All the companies except 3M agreed to a settlement; 3M lost at trial.

Cleanup began in 1987 and had not been completed as of mid-2011, although most of the area had been restored to its original state as wetlands.

The area was redesignated a national park by Congress on October 11, 2000.

The Richfield Coliseum, a multipurpose arena in the Cuyahoga River area, was demolished in 1999 and the now-empty site became part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park upon its designation in 2000. It has since become a grassy meadow popular with birdwatchers.


The Towpath Trail provides recreational activities for visitors.

Many visitors spend their time hiking or bicycling the park's many trails which visit its numerous attractions, including the crushed limestone along portions of the 20-mile (32 km) Towpath Trail, following a former stretch of the 308-mile (496 km) Ohio and Erie Canal.

Waterfalls, rolling hills, caves and winding river scenery attract many park visitors. Steep narrow ravines, a rolling floodplain, and lush farmland contrast with one another throughout the park. Animal life is also plentiful. The Ledges provides a boulder-strewn cliff to relax and watch the sunset over the wooded scenery below. Sled-riding is popular during the winter at Kendall Hills.

The park offers an array of preserved and restored displays of 19th and early 20th century sustainable farming and pastoral or rural living, while catering to contemporary interests with art exhibits, outdoor concerts, and scenic excursion and special event railroad tours on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

It includes compatible-use sites not owned by the federal government, including several local regional parks in the Cleveland Metroparks and Summit Metro Parkssystems, Blossom Music Center, and the Hale Farm & Village. In the mid-1980s, the park hosted the National Folk Festival.


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