A river runs through it: In honor of #Cuyahoga50, our 50 reasons the Cuyahoga River rocks

Fifty looks good on you, Cuyahoga River. As Cleveland celebrates the momentous 50-year milestone of the Cuyahoga River Fire—and the remarkable progress made—with #Cuyahoga50, we're answering all of your burning questions about the river with these 50 fun "Did You Know?" facts.
 

  1. On May 5, 2018, the Cuyahoga River moved the waterway closer to celebrating its eco-status by checking two items off of a Beneficial Use Impairments list. The river no longer suffers from “degradation of aesthetics” or “lack of public access.”

 

  1. Pescetarians rejoiced in December 2018 as restrictions on fish consumption were removed by the EPA. The Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee is hard at work to address the degradations in fish populations that still exist.

 

  1. Those 26-foot boats cleaning the river actually have names! Flotsam and Jetsam have been removing trash, debris, and thousands of logs from the water since 2012.

 

  1. Sure, we all know Randy Newman’s river-inspired “Burn On” tune released in 1972, but don’t skip past R.E.M’s aptly named “Cuyahoga” in 1986, which implores us to “put our heads together and start a new country up.”

 

  1. Don’t be fooled by its age! Though the Cuyahoga is roughly 13,000 years old, it still is considered an infant glacier river, one of the youngest in the U.S. to be formed by a retreating glacier.

 

  1. Yes, the annual mayfly invasion is creepy and annoying, but the swarms actually signify a water source that is healthy enough to support a significant biological population. So stop swatting and start celebrating!

 

  1. Well-being isn’t just a state of mind—it’s actually measurable! And the Cuyahoga’s Modified Index of Well-Being has been steadily and dramatically rising since 1990.

 

  1. Cleveland is always looking to attract new residents, and the river is no exception. Dozens of new species of fish and macroinvertebrates have been discovered in the river in the past decade alone.

 

  1. The secret to providing a habitat for migrating fish is…wiffle balls?! A 2015 initiative saw the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, Biohabitats, and the Regional Sewer District install steel baskets along the steel bulkhead of the river’s navigation channel filled with sticks, gutter-guard bristles, and wiffle balls all to help fish find their safe spaces.

 

  1. May fish be with you. The Cuyahoga and Star Wars will ever be linked as the narrator for a 1978 documentary on the river was none other than Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones.

 

  1. Reducing runoff can reap rewards! The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District offers a fee credit to property owners who make changes or improvements on their properties to reduce the amount of stormwater that ends up in local waterways.

 

  1. It’s a green-cloaked mystery that has yet to be solved as officials still do not know who was responsible for dying the river green near the Akron wastewater treatment plan in 2008.

 

  1. Turns out that those giant U.S.-flag vessels you see floating by have some real history behind them. They belong to the Lake Carriers’ Association, one of the oldest active trade associations in the country, dating all the way back to 1880!

 

  1. The Cuyahoga will have its own signature cocktail as three new concoctions—including a People’s Choice winner—will be served at Xtinguish Village at Rivergate Park on June 22. To win, the drink must contain an element of fire.

 

  1. The Western Reserve Rowing Association oversees eight different rowing organizations. What started as five rowers 30 years ago has now swelled into nearly 1500 participants pulling along the river.

 

  1. The 65,000-square-footprint of the Foundry On-The-River features not only state-of-the-art indoor rowing tanks, but also the longest rowing docks in the world—as well as the oldest tree in the city of Cleveland.

 

  1. At 151 feet-by-40-feet, GOODTIME III is the largest quadruple-deck 1,000 passenger luxury ship on the Great Lakes. It’s quite a bit of a step up from 1957’s GOODTIME, a 62-feet-by-15-feet ship which featured a capacity of 100 people.

 

  1. GOODTIME III is not only a source of revelry, but also a space of great philanthropy. For over 30 years, the vessel has been the home of the G.I.F.T. Cruise, one of the most well-attended annual LGBTQ events in Cleveland raising tens of thousands of dollars for local non-profits.

 

  1. Though the swimsuit competition got a bit dicey, the Cuyahoga River was recently named River of the Year by American Rivers, a Washington D.C.-based conservation organization.

 

  1. Efforts have been underway since 2011 to designate the Cuyahoga an official Ohio Water Trail, a marked route for recreation on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, canals, and coastlines.

 

  1. Hidden delta springs of freshwater still flow deep underground the Cuyahoga delta. When they ran above ground, they were used for wash water, brewing, and kerosene refining.

 

  1. The river always has eyes on it as the Water Quality and Industrial Surveillance program has been routinely monitoring the water for over 30 years to test for dozens of physical, chemical, and biological parameters.

 

  1. Though it might not sound like the sexiest initiative, the Westerly Storage Tunnel Project promises to have great impact. When completed, the system will help control overflows along the river to reduce sewer overflow pollution to the environment by a whopping 328 million gallons per year.

 

  1. The absence of a negative really is a positive here, as the number of water advisories-per-year has been steadily trending downward for the past decade.

 

  1. Nothing says “river conservation” like roller skates. Clevelanders will be able to combine the two passions on June 22, when all $5 skate rentals at a roller-skating party inside moCa will benefit the Burning River Foundation.

 

  1. For well over a decade, the Burning River Foundation has been dedicated to improving, maintaining, and celebrating the vitality of the regional freshwater resources. Born out of the ever-popular Burning River Fest, the foundation has awarded close to $700,000 to local nonprofits.

 

  1. Great Lakes Brewery has created a special concoction for the 18th annual Burning River Fest: Citrus Burning River Pale Ale.

 

  1. Nine teams that competed in the semifinals of the Erie Hack 2.0 at the Sustainable Brands Conference are advancing to today's finals in Cleveland. Four of the finalists hail from Cleveland, and ideas include everything from artificial intelligence for harmful algae analysis to deployed geodesic structures for capturing trash.

 

  1. Once feared to be migrating away from the Cuyahoga River, the great blue herons—the largest heron found in North America—are making a strong and welcome comeback directly due to river conversation efforts. Their heronries (nesting colonies) increased from 14 in 2007 to 96 in 2016.

 

  1. The Blue Heron Homecoming, an annual environmental festival that allows community members a chance to learn about the Akron Waterways Renewed! Program, will be called the Cuyahoga River Homecoming this year when it is held on June 21 at Cascade Valley Metro Park.

 

  1. The river is a great source of inspiration for our future leaders through programs like the All-Akron Student Engineering Program, which encourages student interest in STEM careers by allowing them to have experience working on water conservation as their laboratory of learning.

 

  1. Set against the backdrop of the Cuyahoga River, the 4 Miles 4 Water run/walk event on June 22 seeks to create more awareness of the fresh water resources in our own backyard while highlighting the water crisis that exists globally.

 

  1. The 2nd Annual Blazing Paddles will give participants the opportunity to use their paddleboard, kayak, or canoe to navigate up to a 13-mile urban course of scenic Cuyahoga River landscapes.

 

  1. The storied and heroic legacy of Mayor Carl Stokes’ work to address environmental protection continues with Black Environmental Leaders, an initiative dedicated to getting African Americans engaged and involved in addressing environmental issues.

 

  1. A fundraiser is underway to raise $50,000 to restore the Putzfrau, a 56-foot fish tug that picked up 100 cubic yards of debris and 15,000 gallons of oil every day throughout the 1970s. The hope is to turn the boat into a functioning museum.

 

  1. Frank Samsel, a lifelong Greater Cleveland resident, will be the final torchbearer in the Xtinguish Torchfest, in recognition of his innovation and efforts in river cleanup.

 

  1. The Cuyahoga River Brewery Trail kicks off on June 21, connecting 18 craft breweries along the waterway, from Kent to Akron to Cleveland, to promote recreational activities along the river.

 

  1. Malaz Elgemiabby, a Cleveland-based design consultant from Sudan, was recently approved to create a public art project with black and white photographs to highlight the potential of a future park located at Irishtown Bend and overlooking the river.

 

  1. The bridges that straddle the river are also getting artistic love during #Cuyahoga50 as there will be a multisensory installation on the Detroit-Superior Bridge by U.K.-based design collective Squidsoup lighting up the night on June 22.

 

  1. Radio meets water on June 24 as the Sound of Ideas Community Tour will be setting sail aboard the GOODTIME III for a community discussion about environmental progress.

 

  1. For the third year in a row, passengers can cross between the East and West Bank of the Flats for free via the Cleveland Metroparks water taxi. 47,381 riders used the ADA accessible and dog-friendly yacht in 2018.

 

  1. Cuyahoga River Restoration warns paddlers away from navigating the ship channel, which measures 23-feet-deep and is lined with steel walls. Listen for 5 short blasts of a horn, meaning danger!: a ship is nearby.

 

  1. Art is currently explosive at the Cleveland Museum of Art with an exhibit entitled Cuyahoga River Lightning by Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who is currently showing his gunpowder-related work for the first time in Cleveland.

 

  1. Hosted by River Network, the annual River Rally will be held in Cleveland this year on June 21-24, with over 70 learning opportunities, an awards ceremony, novel social events, and access to thought leaders and change agents.

 

  1. The Cuyahoga River sees some real excitement during Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race which features an 8-feet, Class III waterfall followed by a Class V 10-feet waterfall.

 

  1. Freeing up a path for fish to swim and kayakers to paddle, the 8-feet-tall, 183-feet-long Brecksville Dam will be demolished by the end of 2019.

 

  1. The removal of the Brecksville Dam will leave the Gorge Dam in Cuyahoga Falls as the only dam left on the Cuyahoga River. There are plans to demolish this last remnant in 2023.

 

  1. Inspired by the fierceness of the flames, the Burning River Roller Derby is the premier skater-run flat-track roller derby league in Cleveland.

 

  1. Twenty-two miles of the Cuyahoga River meander through the Cuyahoga Valley, a key feature of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

 

  1. One of only 14 rivers in the country to earn the designation, the Cuyahoga was named an American Heritage River due to its cultural, environmental, and economic importance to our region.

Signup for Email Alerts