I am an explorer; I love discovering what the world around me has to offer. I have done my best to travel the 22,000 acres of the “Emerald Necklace” of the Cleveland Metroparks, sampled the historical Cleveland tradition of ethnic diversity at the West Side Market, and gotten lost in the memories of a magical time period at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. Recently, I have boarded another timeless journey: the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
From serving as a transportation corridor for the Indians thousands of years ago to later providing settlers with an easy way to move bulk goods, the Cuyahoga River and Valley in northern Ohio has always been an asset to people of all ages. The Valley Railway was primarily built to transport coal from south of Canton, Ohio to the prosperous industries developing throughout Cleveland. Today it serves as transportation through beautiful meadowland, the homes of beaver, fox, deer, and owl, and shopping and lodging destinations. Children anxiously climb aboard the “Polar Express” during the Christmas season and experience a magical trip to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus. Families travel alongside the railway on miles of the Towpath Trail to bike, walk, and even canoe.
With twelve main points of interest and eight stations, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad stretches across 33,000 acres of our National Park. I have visited and photographed two of the stations including Peninsula Depot and Brecksville Station. Each station offers various forms of entertainment ranging from recreational activities, dining, shopping, and art galleries.
The Peninsula Depot sits in the small town of Peninsula that offers various tourist attractions for its visitors of all ages. A few dining options include the Winking Lizard and Fisher’s Cafe and Pub, stores range from Burda Books to Yellow Creek Trading Company, and art galleries include Diane Seskes Photography and Elements Gallery. Special events are held throughout the year and attract families from all over the Midwest. Not only is the town packed with excitement during the day, but it also has a great night life featuring various bars, karaoke events, and live musicians.
While visiting I traveled the Towpath Trails. Not only was I able to observe wildlife throughout the dense forest, recreational activities on the trails, and the beautiful scenery, but I also came across the Canal Feeder Dam, a historical landmark of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. While the dam was originally built in 1827 to provide water for the Ohio and Erie Canal, today it functions as more of a memory for the town. Peninsula once greatly depended on this dam and the Cuyahoga River, and many of the buildings throughout the town still stand as to portray the purpose it once served.
I also walked alongside the Cuyahoga River which has created a series of peninsulas over the course of its existence. While the river was once completely polluted and disregarded by society, it now serves a different purpose. I observed two children skipping rocks across the water, a family canoeing on the calm rapids, and a blue heron searching for its lunch.
The Brecksville Station also offers much excitement for its visitors. Well known restaurants are just around the corner and offer a wide variety of dining options including Creekside Restaurant and Bar, Sakura Japanese, and The Courtyard Cafe. Shopping centers are within walking distance from these restaurants and feature unique stores such as Riverview House Antiques Gifts and Florals and ABC Art and Coin Exchange. The area also serves as a great recreational destination as people come to hike, golf, play softball, and run cross country.
While visiting I photographed the beautiful fall scenery around the station. The Route 82 bridge spans the Cuyahoga Valley and runs directly over the railroad at the Brecksville Station. Built in 1931 the bridge stands at a height taller than the Statue of Liberty and its unique construction the evolution of bridge engineering.
From recreational opportunities to gourmet dining to experiencing historical landmarks, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is truly a beautiful asset to Northeast Ohio. While I have only visited two of the stations, I look forward to exploring and photographing more in the near future. Board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad yourself and discover all that it has to offer!
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