Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Honors John P. Debo Jr.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad honored Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s (CVNP) Past Superintendent, John P. Debo Jr. on June 18. Debo was CVNP’s Superintendent for 21 years. During his time working for the park, Debo made many contributions to the historic railroad and helped shape the railroad into what the community knows it as today.

“We are excited that we can honor John by dedicating the Explorer car in his name,” said CVSR President and CEO Joe Mazur. “John was instrumental in the development of our organization including his idea for the original Bike Aboard program that we now call Explorer.”

The Bike Aboard program was introduced in 1994. This was Debo’s vision to allow one-way trips for a small fee to transport park visitors and their bikes throughout the park. This one-of-a-kind program has grown into what CVSR now calls the Explorer program. Today, park visitors can utilize this program to bike, hike, run and now kayak the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

“John is the reason our community is able to enjoy this program,” said Mazur. “It only seemed appropriate to name the Explorer car in his honor.”

When Debo started with CVNP, service on the railroad had been suspended while the park acquired the tracks. John negotiated an agreement to allow CVSR to operate within the park and the park assumed responsibility for maintaining the infrastructure. This was the beginning of the many contributions Debo would make to help shape the railroad.

Debo would go on to work alongside former U.S. House of Representative Member Ralph Regula to champion for CVSR. They received more than $50 million to replace bridges, tracks, crossing protection, riverbank stabilization and depots needed for the railroad to operate.

In addition, Debo worked with Cuyahoga County to donate the Fitzwater Maintenance Facility. With a $4.5 million improvement — it was transformed into what it is today and where CVSR houses its historic fleet of railcars and locomotives and manages its operations.

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Lynee Bixler