Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Near Cleveland, OH

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a National Park that has preserved and reclaimed the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. The 20,339.22-acre park is administered by the National Park Service and is the only national park in Ohio. It was established in 1974 as the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area and was designated as a national park in 2000.
After we left the Berea County Fairgrounds this morning (Friday, Sept 26) and yesterday's visit to the Rock & Roll HoF, we drove to CVNP for a day visit there.  We arrived mid-morning and proceeded to park the motor home along side a country road near the visitor center.  Now, being from Ohio (born and raised until I joined the Navy in '66, and lived in Virginia ever since), I had heard of the Park, but didn't realize it was a National Park until recently.  And we just love visiting our National Treasures.  We didn't know much about it, but soon learned that the park's center piece, so to speak, was the Ohio and Erie Canal and the subsequent Towpath Trail used by many locals and visitors as a cycling & bike recreation haven.  
From the NP website:  The multi-purpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath trail was developed by the National Park Service and is the major trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It runs almost 21 miles (33½ km) from Rockside Road, Independence, OH in the north to Summit County's Bike & Hike trail in the south. It follows the Cuyahoga River for much of its length. Restrooms can be found at several trailheads along the way and commercial food and drink can be found on Rockside Rd., the Boston Store, in Peninsula, and at the farmer's market on Botzum Rd., (seasonally). There are also several visitors centers along the way. At Rockside Rd. it connects to Cleveland Metroparks trail which travels another 6 miles (9½ km) North. The Summit County trail runs through Akron and south. The "towpath trail" continues through Stark and Tuscarawas counties down to Zoar, Ohio; almost 70 more miles with only one significant (1 mile) interruption. Sections of the towpath trail outside of Cuyahoga Valley National Park are owned and maintained by various state and local agencies. The trail also meets the Buckeye Trail in the National Park (near Boston Store). Another section of the Summit County Bike & Hike Trail system (connecting to the near-by Brandywine Falls, and also to the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation and Solon in Cuyahoga County; Hudson and Stow in Summit County; and Kent and Ravenna in Portage County, Ohio) is near-by.
The Boston Store Visitor Center was our starting point for our adventure. It also is a canal boat-building museum, featuring exhibits on all aspects of that business. The building was originally constructed circa 1836 to house the Boston Land and Manufacturing Company Store. Since then, it has served as a warehouse, store, post office and gathering place. Today, the Boston Store also offers visitor information, a public meeting room available for rent and a small sales area. The exhibit at the store tells the story of canal boat building in the valley.
This old restored filling station/garage (below) was just west about 100 feet.
  This park has several locations scattered up and down the river/canal and we didn't catch them all, but we did catch a couple of them.
Above, the Store and the old garage...and below an old warehouse (currently being used as a trail service and supply place).
Below are a few pics of some exhibits from the museum part of the visitor center here.
I just can't resist pics of pics, especially when they describe better than me what was going on at a place in time in our past hisotrical annals.
We stopped here expecting to go inside and see the period decor of the house, but unfortunately it was closed and undergoing repairs to it's foundation.
Our next stop was a place called Hell's Half Acre, a busy and apparently treacherous stretch of the canal, with a lock that lifted and lowered the boats day and night.  All the work of filling and draining the lock was done by a set of mechanical cranks and sluice valves.
We were fortunate in that it was Saturday (Sept 27) and there were volunteers here putting on a demonstration and describing just how the men worked to get the boats up & down.  Pretty interesting...
Above, Miss Nancy taking a close look at the happenings of the moving mechanical pieces.
Because the canal hasn't been used for well over 120 years (thanks to the advent of the Valley Railroad), the water diversion creeks and feeder canals are no longer maintained and therefore little flow occurs these days, except of course when there are downpours. 
The old farm house above once served as the lock master HQ as well.  It is another visitor center and museum today.
Above, gate closed, and below, gate open...
And below are a few pics from inside this visitor center.
So ends our visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canal.  We packed in quite few footsteps today and took in a lot of history of this industrious valley and the struggle to bring goods and produce to & fro along the valley here in northeast Ohio during the middle 19th century.  We sure have seen a lot over the four years as as we have traveled this country top to bottom and east to west, taking in as much as our time and resources allowed.  Thank you Lord for the opportunity and the safety during our journey.  Mostly, thank you for our health.  
That wraps up this blog of the RVing Beach Bums, written & published from our home on Dec 25 in Virginia Beach.  Saturday, Dec 27, we will depart, Lord willing, here and head to Florida for a few months.  What a wonderful week it has been spending time and celebrating with our daughters and their children, our beautiful family.