It has Been 50 Years Since The Cuyahoga Caught Fire

It lasted only 20 minutes, but has been immortalized in song for decades.
50 years ago, the Cuyahoga river caught fire.

Such conflagrations had happened before, and not just in Ohio, but in other waterways like the tributary to the Chicago’s river, known as “Bubbly Creek.” More

But how is this poster child for the Clean Water Act doing today? According to the Cleveland Aquarium, which takes regular water samples from the Cuyahoga “most days the Cuyahoga’s health comes out “fairly good”.”

14 Comments on It has Been 50 Years Since The Cuyahoga Caught Fire

  1. The word Cuyahoga means “crooked”. Like Cuyahoga Clinton (Hillary). River was so polluted it caught fire 13 times. Should have let it burn. You could have probably gotten a cooked crappy out of it.

  2. A lot of that everywhere..The Sangamon River, which runs through

    Central Illinois was affectionately called “Shit Creek” By Locals

    back in the 70’s.

  3. Cleveland guy here – back in the early 70s when we used to got close to Cleveland with the boat traveling from the far West side we really had to keep an eagle eye out for floating debris. As we got closer to the Cuyahoga river we would see tires, wheels, railroad ties, and other assorted crap that we had to dodge so as not to damage the boat! All that has changed now. The lake has really been cleaned up!

  4. Heck, Randy Newman also wrote another song that may motivate the clean up of another nasty situation.
    A second chance at being recognized for drawing attention to a situation that needs cleaned up.

    Political Science ( Let’s Drop the Big One Now) ..

    They all hate us anyhow
    So let’s drop the big one now
    See – what – happens

  5. I bought a boat this spring, primarily to enjoy 3 pools on the Illinois River. We’ve joked for years about the healing properties of the river. A day swimming in the river exposes you to so much shit, you won’t get sick the whole year.

    As nasty as the river can be, it cares for itself. A good flood washes debris downstream, even invasive species like Asian Carp can’t bring it down. I’m regularly seeing 4-5lb small mouth bass that look as healthy as anything I’ve seen up north.

  6. Far upstream from the fire area, the Cuyahoga has some pretty nifty whitewater and serene paddling stretches. I never paddled the Cuyahoga because of the sewage pollution. Still is like that.


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