Mar. 26, 2015   36°F   School Closings
Listen Live WCPN / WCLV
Mission 4
Values 1
Values 2
Values 3
Vision 3
Vision 4
Vision 5
Values 4
Values 5
Values 6
Vision 1
Vision 2

Choose a station:

90.3 WCPN
WCLV 104.9

Choose a station:

90.3 WCPN
WCLV 104.9
The Sound of Ideas

A New Take on the Lake: 40th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire

Posted Monday, June 22, 2009

Share on Facebook Share Share on Twitter Tweet

A New Take on the Lake: 40th Anniversary of the Cuyahoga River Fire “Fifty years ago the river boiled like a cauldron. This was all very black, and just constantly bubbling like a stew on a stove,” said Captain Wayne Bratton of Trident Marine, who worked on the river for 50 years. When TIME magazine reported on the fire in the August 1969 issue, it created environmental concern around the state and country. The river fire helped spur the environmental movement and led to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. We’ll talk to people who worked on river before and after the fire, those who pushed for the clean-up, and local officials who are working on sustaining the worlds’ largest single freshwater resource, the Great Lakes.


Environment, Other, Community/Human Interest


Frank Samsel, founder of Samsel Supply Company and the river cleaning vessel, The Putzfrau
Dr. Bob Heath, Director Emeritus, Water Resources Research Institute, Kent State University & Vice-President of the International Association for Great Lakes Research
Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Tinka Hyde, Director, Water Division Region 5, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Sean Logan, Director, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Additional Information

The Year of The River and the Cuyahoga River Re-Birthday Party is presented by the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization
The Cities: The Price of Optimism, 1969 Article from Time Magazine
Cuyahoga River Area of Concern, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Year of the River, The Plain Dealer
The Return of the Cuyahoga, WVIZ/PBS ideastream
Educational Resources: The Return of the Cuyahoga On-Line Curriculum answers questions about how a river could burn and why it happened here. Included is an entire unit plan containing several cross-curricular lessons correlated to State of Ohio Science Standards in the areas of environmental history, environmental investigation, and eliciting social action. Interactive features include animated maps, streaming video, and a glossary which is linked to new words throughout the site. A database allows teachers to enter and compare water testing data gathered from local tributaries.

Leave a Comment

Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Katherine Chilcote 2:50 AM 6/22/09

Come to the unveiling of Building Bridges Settler’s Landing Mural at 12 pm Monday June 22nd

Rick Foran 10:30 AM 6/22/09

Thanks, Michael Scott and the PD, for investigating the whole sordid “river burning” story.

Yes, the river was foul and sometimes and in some spots covered with muck.

But, the RIVER didn’t start on fire. The oil slick did.

Carl Stokes’ PR crew did a little shorthand in telling the story to get national support.

it did accomplish its goal, which is good.

But Clevelanders shouldn’t let it add to its collective inferiority complex. (We have our professional sports teams for that) Just about every industrialized city at the time had a similar problem. We just became the poster child for the environmental movement.

As Mr. Scott points out in his article in today’s PD, Cleveland voters were the LEADERS in cleaning up pollution a year BEFORE the fire by voting to tax themselves $100-Million to clean up the Cuyahoga.
That was alot of money, especially when you consider inflation over 40 years.

We did that when other cities around the country were still debating whether or not pollution was a legitimate issue.

So, be proud, Cleveland, for taking the initiative to lead the country


Live Video Stream

Watch the Sound of Ideas live

Watch the Sound of Ideas during the broadcast - view now! Live video stream available during normal broadcast, Mon-Fri, 9-10 AM (EST).


Every weekday at 9:00 AM (EST), The Sound of Ideas reports the news, explains the news, and sometimes makes news. The Cleveland Press Club awarded it “Best Radio Show” in Ohio and thousands daily find it to be an indispensable source of information about what’s most important to Northeast Ohioans.

Interact with The Sound of Ideas

During the show: 216-578-0903 or 866-578-0903
Last Word line: 216-916-6397 or email
Show ideas & comments? Contact Us.

Twitter: @soundofideas


Recently Featured all entries

Air Dates

90.3 WCPN
Weekdays 9:00 AM

The Ohio Channel
Weekdays 9:00 AM

Funding for Ideas & The Sound of Ideas

Funding for Ideas/Sound of Ideas comes from The George Gund Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, Eaton, the George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, The Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation, and the Nord Family Foundation.