Faith, hard work, sweat and blood built the railways; the railways connected the length and breadth of the country – east to west, north to south. Generations of young Americans have been inspired by the railways, inspired to travel, to dream, to put talents and time to good use. But the histories of the railways are tumultuous, spotted with mergers, sales, bankruptcies, acquisitions and losses of once-famous lines.
The line that runs through the Cuyahoga Valley, once transporting coal (and passengers) to Cleveland, Akron and Canton from the Tuscarawas River, has a complicated pedigree. It originally began service in 1880 on a bed of track and rails laid down by Valley Railway. In 1894, finances forced the transition to Cleveland Terminal and Valley Railroad, which was later acquired by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1915. Chesapeake and Ohio Railway gained control of B&O in 1962, and both were folded into The Chessie System in 1973. And all the while, the development and popularity of cars, trucks and buses had steadily reduced both freight and passenger service on the line.
Interest in the 51 miles of track running primarily through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park as a scenic route was developed in 1972, and the Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway Association was born in either ’72 or ’73.
Today, these trains run seasonally up to three times a day from Rockside Station to Akron; all trips are round trip with a SCENIC ticket, and you can leave the train at any station on the route to tour places in the respective towns – the canal-era town of Penninsula, the Hale Farm and Village, the countryside Farmer’s Market at Howe Meadow. Or, you can take the scenic themed rides: The Grape Escape, the wine-tasting tour; or the Ales on Rails, where passengers sample 5 different beers on a two-hour ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park