Yesterday I took an excursion right here in Ohio, one that I have long wanted to take... the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. This railway travels 51 miles from suburban Cleveland to Akron. Most of the route passes through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My friend Frank bought tickets for us to take the round trip excursion yesterday.
We arrived at the northern terminus of the railway, the Rockside Station, located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence. As you can see, the weather was perfect.
The station stands next to the Cuyahoga, the "crooked river" that meanders to Cleveland where it empties into Lake Erie.
Running next to the river is a remnant of the old Ohio & Erie Canal. The canal was built in the early 1800s, and crossed the entire state of Ohio, connecting Lake Erie in the north with the Ohio River in the south. It was a major impetus in the development of the state.
The path that you see to the right of the canal is a portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. a hiking trail follows the old canal and extends 85 miles southward to New Philadelphia.
At 1:00 P.M. our train arrived.
The passenger cars are all restored, vintage train cars which the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad has purchased for preservation.
Our car was the most luxurious of them all, a car which is called the "St. Lucie". It was built in the late 1940's in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and was a private railcar that was used on runs along the East Coast to Florida.
The bar in the car features a mosaic made from linoleum that depicts the Seminole tribe of Florida.
Unfortunately, a previous owner of the car had glued carpeting onto the historic mural. It was a labor of love undertaken by volunteers to remove the carpeting, and scrape off the glue.
Our excursion was even more fun because my friend Fred volunteers as a trainman and was on our car.
If your are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Fred and his wife Nancy have accompanied me on a couple of trips to Mexico... most recently last autumn to Mexico City for the Day of the Dead.
Fred provides commentary during the train trip, pointing out places of interest along the way. He is an excellent tour guide!
We passed a railway siding where train cars and engines that have been purchased by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad are restored.
The trip through the Cuyahoga Valley was lovely and relaxing.
There are a number of stops along the way, most notably the quaint station in the picturesque village of Peninsula.
Visitors to the Cuyahoga National Park who are bicycling or hiking along its trails can use the train to return to where they have parked their car.
The entire round trip takes around three and a half hours. For anyone who is visiting the Cleveland area, I highly recommend it. And if you live in the Cleveland or Akron area, don't wait as many years as I did to experience this local gem.
And thank you, Fred, for being a great guide!