40th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire

40 years ago yesterday the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught on fire.  Again.

The 1969 Cuyahoga River fire was one of the seminal events in American environmental history, yet the conventional narrative about the fire is all wrong — including the famous picture that Time magazine published erroneously. News photographers failed to arrive in time to catch pictures of the quick blaze. The picture Time published was actually from 1952.

Although this river was particularly infamous for its flammibility, river fires were fairly common in Industrial Age America.  Now the river is again healthy and "fish-friendly".


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Back in the mid to late 19th century refineries had a waste product known to us as gasoline. They would usually dump it in a river.

Granted, it *probably* wasn't all that much gasoline, comparatively, but it would be nice to have it back.

More recently oil companies burned natural gas, especially on deep sea rigs, because it was too expensive to bring it ashore. I hope they no longer do that, either.

I was visiting Cleveland once and saw a Great Lakes bulk carrier sailing upstream on the Cuyahoga. There are some very tight turns there and it made for an impressive sight.
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