Hit the Rails for the Best Cuyahoga Valley Experience
National Geographic | By Nancy Gupton, September 19, 2018
There are many ways to experience Ohio’s picturesque Cuyahoga Valley National Park—hiking, biking, canoeing—but the most evocative is a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
This line of historic train cars winds through 26 miles of the national park, which encompasses forests, waterfalls, and part of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath, the park’s main trail. The 3.5-hour scenic train ride passes many of the park’s top attractions, including teeming Beaver Marsh and Indigo Lake, a popular fishing spot.
Long before the national park was established in 1974, tourists came to the Cuyahoga River Valley area for carriage rides and boat trips along the Ohio and Erie Canal. In 1880, the short-line Valley Railway was established to carry coal from the Tuscarawas River Valley to Cleveland, Akron, and Canton. It also offered passenger service—and soon drew tourists lured by its bucolic views and slow pace. (“We have the finest picnic grounds in the state!” read an 1884 Valley Railway ad.)
After becoming part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (the oldest in the country) and spending years in decline, the line was revived in 1972 as an excursion railway. The rails are now owned by the national park; the cars by the nonprofit, private CVSR.
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