Who: Dana C. Crawford, PhD
What: Canal Exploration Center, Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Where: 7104 Canal Road, Valley View, OH 44125
In a previous post, I have already mentioned the existence of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a great destination for outdoor fun. The Canal Exploration Center is also part of the national park. This park entrance is very popular for cycle enthusiasts given its proximity to the towpath trail and the train station. What’s the towpath trail, you ask? The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail follows the Erie Canal (built between1925 and 1832) used by mules to tow the canal boats. This mule service was a major mode of transportation between Cleveland near Lake Erie and Portsmouth on the Ohio River for goods and people in the mid-to-late and early 20th centuries. The trail is now open 24 hours a day for cyclists in the summer and cross-country skiers in the winter.
The trail passes through several historic sites including the Canal Exploration Center (Figure). Steve and I briefly visited this park entrance in the summer of 2014 to walk part of the towpath trail. While we were there, we noticed guides in period costumes outside the Center offering brief guided tours and explanations on how the canal locks worked. We didn’t have time to go inside the Center, but we understand that the Center has historic exhibits and interactive stations related to the canal and the various people who used it. And, apparently the Center had just opened, so some of the activities we noticed that weekend may have been for the grand opening.
Although we walked the towpath trail on this occasion, we are very interested in bringing our bikes or, at the very least, we are interested in returning to check out the train. For those with bikes, this location has a Bike Aboard! Station that allows you to bike the towpath trial in one direction and ride the train back in the other direction. You can also Run Aboard! And Hike Aboard! for the special one-way fare if you get on and off as directed. As for me, I have my eye on the Grape Escape and Ales on Rails excursions. What better way to spend two hours meandering through the beautiful national park with friends?