Sunday, May 25, 2014

Towpath Trail and Storm Damage

Last Sunday, I wrote about enjoying a nice ride on my Rivendell Long-Low through the Cuyahoga Valley, and I mentioned some of the damage that had occurred after some torrential storms that moved through our area nearly two weeks ago. At that time, I didn't have my camera with me to document some of that damage. I got out for a ride again yesterday, this time with a camera.

Yesterday was a beautiful Spring Saturday, and I took the Retrokids for a ride on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath. Most of the path has been reopened, but there is still one section, about 1.6 miles in the southern end of the national park, that is completely closed and may remain so for a while. Other sections are open, but still show much damage.

This shows probably the worst area of damage. The railroad tracks are part of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, which takes visitors up and down the valley from Akron to just south of Cleveland. It may not be obvious from this angle, but there is nothing underneath the tracks -- they are just hanging in the air. Follow them into the distance and see the major dip they take where, again, the entire base beneath them has been washed away. The canal towpath is there, too, just to the right of the wooden fence -- completely buried in the gravel and earth that had been the base for the tracks.
Here's the towpath, buried under debris. 
This is the part of the railroad tracks that could be seen in the top photo, where the tracks took a big "dip." Here you can see pretty clearly why. I could almost stand under the tracks here. The amount of water cascading through this area, and the force it generated, must have been tremendous.
This is the towpath trail right beside the section of tracks in the previous photo. In fact, this is the spot where I was standing when I shot the previous photo. That crater is a couple of feet deep.
Here's another part of the trail, in the town of Peninsula, about 4 - 5 miles north of the other damaged section. This part of the trail is open, but the damage is pretty obvious -- a large piece of the trail washed right down to the Cuyahoga River below.
This wasn't part of the towpath, but I took it to show another area of damage in the valley. This was a big chunk of earth that washed into the river (visible on the left). The crater it left extends just to the edge of one of the two main roadways through the valley.
Enough storm damage, already. Here's one of the Retrokids with our trail-riding bike -- or should I say, train (the other kid is off looking at wildflowers or something). We stopped here beside one of the old canal locks for a break. The bike is an '83 Stumpjumper, complete with nicely lugged frame and twin-plate fork crown. It's been repainted, and has some "updated" parts (90s instead of 80s) along with a sprung Brooks saddle and mustache bars. The kids' rig is a double Trail-A-Bike -- a hard item to find. I've often said in the pages of this blog that when it comes to the weight of a bike making a difference in riding, you have to be talking about pounds, not just grams or ounces. Well, between the two kids and the double trailer, I'm probably pulling an extra 110 - 115 lbs.
I've read some articles in the news that the damage from storms in the valley has gotten worse over the years due to all the development that has been taking place above the valley, and outside the park lands. With all that pavement, and parking lots, shopping centers and housing developments -- it generates so much runoff in major storm events that it all eventually finds its way down to the valley and causes serious problems with erosion, etc.

Well -- anyhow -- damage or no damage - the kids and I had an enjoyable ride. That's all for now.


  1. Alright now, trailer pulling Dad, let's be honest, this is a "trailer" that has the possibility of adding some propulsion of its own. "Come on kids, pedal, this is a steep hill!"

    1. They can add some propulsion, but exactly how much is questionable. Hills are a challenge, and it makes for some pretty funky handling. We have fun, though.