tv Cuyahoga River Fire 50th Anniversary CSPAN August 9, 2019 8:00pm-9:05pm EDT
you unfiltered content from congress and beyond the lettuce changed in 40 years but today that big idea is more relevant than ever. on television, online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government so that you can make up your own mind, brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider . >> the cuyahoga river, as most think of it, the broad stream that meets lake erie, and industrial waterway, it's banks populated by steel mills and factories. its channel filled with ships. >> the cuyahoga river as it reaches lake erie after a 100 mile twisting and turning journey from its headwaters is an exhausted stream. abused and misused by man in
his machine. >> without the cuyahoga river, the metropolis would not exist, the river was the reason for originally settling this portion of the reserves in the 1780s the river called crooked by the delaware indians provided a waterway to the interior of ohio and, so, man came and continues coming, until today, nearly 2 million people live and work in the river basin. in creating this urban complex command has used the river as men have always use rivers. the flow has been put to work as a water supply and as a sewer. man's mark is
everywhere, is this mark an epitaph for the cuyahoga? >> joining us from the cleveland area is david stradling and the co-author of where the river burned the carl stokes and the struggle to save cleveland. let me be been by asking physically where you're located and explained what happened 50 years ago this month . >> thank you for having me. we are sitting near the mouth of the cuyahoga river, where the cuyahoga reaches lake erie so you can see over my shoulder one of the railroad trestles that crosses the river. there are a lot of bridges so downtown cleveland is to my left and to my right is ohio city in the city of cleveland.
were sitting in the area called the flats which is the land along the cuyahoga river. they run up several miles, this is the former industrial area of the city of cleveland. 50 years ago on june 22, 1969, there was a fire on the river at the end of navigation a couple of miles south of your meaning boats could not go farther upstream. this is where a couple of low railroad trestles block debris coming downstream, that's not unusual, they got soaked in oil which was also not unusual and then there was a spark perhaps from a passing train that we don't know what set off the fire. the trestles burned and were doused by both a fire boat and cruise on the shore, photographers didn't get there
in time to get a picture of the cuyahoga burning that time but eventually news about the cuyahoga catching fire became international in scope. so, this is what we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the cuyahoga no longer catching fire . there had been previous fires along the cuyahoga but this was not the first . >> absolutely. there were perhaps a dozen, maybe even more before the 1969 fire. probably the one that became most famous is a fire in 1952, it became most famous because many people began to confuse photographs of the worst fire with the fire that happened in 1969. that's because time magazine which ran a piece about water pollution in august 1969, either inadvertently or purposely use the photograph from 1952 and simply indicated
that this was the cuyahoga river catching fire that photograph shows a tugboat basically trapped in flames, it was a damaging fire with fire fires training water on a large oil slick that was burning at that point. so, most people outside of cleveland would've assumed that rivers don't catch fire on a regular basis but what they were looking at in 1969 in time magazine with a photograph of something that just happened and there the confusion only gets more extreme, people began to think that this was, in 1969, a catastrophic fire, there was tremendous damage done to it was five stories tall that it burned for hours and i even saw somebody say it burned for days. so, the mythology around what actually happened in 1969 begins to grow. my brother richard and i, as we research to the book i decided
that probably the reason the mythology about the burning river know why it grows so much is because people's thoughts about burning river, having to be a major event, this is a biblical thing, rivers don't catch fire. it must be a sign of terrible water pollution of the type that had never been seen before. of course the many previous fires dating all the way back to the late 19th century is an indication that the pollution had been a long term problem in cleveland . >> the first reported fire going back to 1868, back to the time magazine piece describing the cuyahoga as a river that uses rather than flows and in which people do not drowned but decay. so, just how bad was the river? >> i don't think there's any doubt that the cuyahoga was a terribly polluted river in 1969. i do think it was not at its
nadir, in fact the pollution was much worse and in the 1940s and 50s, this is one of the reasons why there was a significant cluster of fires in those two decades. one of the things the city did to improve water nullity or at least to diminish the frame ability of the river, is to regularly clear the debris from the river and to break up oil slick's with water cannons. but, that is not something that could be done ahead of the navigation. so, this particular fire was not preventable in that way. but quickly then like a lot of cities had been investigating significant amount of cities in it suet sewage treatment infrastructure through this 20th century. and i think our industry also had been making investment and in diminishing the pollution that it was dumping into the river and significantly the oil refinery
industry had basically left cleveland and the standard oil had closed the last of the major refineries. the water quality was bad the ecology the was greatly diminished but there was little reason for people to think of the cuyahoga as ecological space, to think of it as a complete river. at the same time, it was not as bad as it had been. >> along with his brother david keys the co-author of the book, where the river burned and he made his way from cincinnati to join us in cleveland this sunday and we welcome our viewers . >> we have our phone regionally for those in that eastern half of the country, and we do have
a line set aside for ohio residents, especially if you live in the wheatland and akron area and we love to hear from you, if you remember the events from 50 years ago, 202-748-8000 two. i want to share with you the words of president richard nixon who was credited with the creation of the epa, here's what he had to say about our environment . >> in the next 10 years we shall increase our wealth by 50% . does that mean we will be 50% richer? 50% better off, 50% happier? or, does it mean that in the year 1980 standing in this place at this day in which 70% of our people lived in metropolitan areas, choked by traffic, suffocated by smog, poisoned by water deafened by
noise and terrorized by crime. these are not the great questions that concern the world leaders at summit conferences . >>, people do not live at the summit. they live in the foothills of everyday experience. it is time for all of us to concern ourselves with the way real people live in real life. the great question of the 70s is, shall we surrender to our surroundings or, shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, land and water? [ applause ] state of the unio address, david stradling, as you hear that from richard nixon in 1970, one year after the from a 1970s state of the union address, one year after the fire along the cuyahoga river, your reaction .
>> i think it's a recognition of just how powerful a political issue the environment had become. nixon articulates it in a common way at the time which is to kind of suggest that things had just gotten so bad that now we finally have to deal with them. but, as my earlier comment suggests, the environment, particularly the urban environment around industry had been so bad for so long that mostly what he's articulating is a changing sense that now we need to do something because american citizens are demanding that they be given access to clean water and clean air, that there cities not be as filthy as they have been. i think this is mostly a recognition that a tide had changed but a series of events including the cuyahoga river fire but also the santa barbara oil spill, there's a terrible
pesticide spill on the rhine river a couple days after the firing cleveland. all of these things begin to build up, these spectacular events, to remind people just how bad the urban and industrial environment had become . >> as you look at the river behind you, how does it look to you today? >> it's remarkable, the change that is taking place here. it's twofold. it's difficult to tell exactly what's going on in the water itself because it still a milky brown river flowing out of agricultural and forested land and still has debris that floats downstream. but, we see waterfowl, we see something you would've never seen 50 years ago just people out kayaking and i saw people out in schools earlier. the cuyahoga has once again become a much more complete
river. it's an agricultural space or i'm sorry, recreational space. there are new parks of public access across the river for people for the whole region. this is something that goes well self of the city of cleveland. the cuyahoga valley national park is become a regional and national treasure, it's remarkable space for recreation , getting out of the city . >> our guest is david, the co- author of where the river burned and he's joining us from wheatland ohio, professor of history at the university of cincinnati. we want to thank the music box supper club before we take our first call, to put our cameras in place to allow david to share with us on site on the scene, what it was like there in the fact that it's now a supper club that there are bars and restaurants along the flats that tells you what?
>> well, it tells us that this is a part of the city that clevelanders are interested in returning to. this is not an entirely new movement, in the 1990s, cleveland started to reimagine the flats that so much of the industry had moved out there is still an awful lot of very interesting architecture down here and mostly you see the engineering, it's really kind of us attacking the space, the engineering of various bridges, which makes this an interesting place to be and in the 1990s, we had a bit of a kind of kindling of this culture down here by the flats and it's come on much more intensely in the last five or 10 years, much more capital put in down here and this is really one of the highlight areas of cleveland's culture . >> from nearby lorain ohio, sandor your first up the good
morning . >> yes, good morning. these rivers flow into the lake, lake erie. lake erie brings in $100 billion of revenue every year. so, this pollution is very costly and let me just add to that that i live in the rain which has a river, black river, which also leads into the lake and, a couple days ago there was an oil spill on the late, and i'm sorry, on the river and, also, not to take away from the rivers but there was a lake where truck was found to be spilling out chemicals into a wildlife refuge in spencer blake
. >> thank you, sandra we will jump in and get a response . >> the center point out that obviously the problems of pollution have not been completely solved. there is still a lot of industry around lake erie and the other great lakes lorain has a steel mill that even hearing cleveland the major steel mills are once again up and running. i do believe they've made african investments and water pollution control and also air pollution control. but, no doubt accidents happen and there are, of course, other kinds of contributors to water pollution. wheatland like lots of cities that grew in the late 19th century has combined sewers for sanitary sewage combines with storm runoff and, when it rains that means untreated sewage
flows into the cuyahoga and directly into lake erie. we also know that lake erie suffers from nonpoint source pollution which is agricultural runoff mostly. so, as i tell my students, there are no permanent victories or environmental protection, it's an ongoing effort and you have to adjust to new threats and new problems and to be vigilant about regulation and enforcement . >> i was born and raised along the source of the river, which is a big river and i can remember the phone used to go fishing with my dad and it was really, as a kid you know that's not normal but it was disgusting. that was in the 70s
but i remember the commercial of the indian worry walked along the garbage and now, and that was never in there before that now it's cleaned up a lot. lately we seem to be getting back to not caring about protecting our environment because we won the battle and we do the same thing all over again with the oceans and all of that. sooner or later we got to wake up because you can't keep polluting where you live at. it's just logic, making sense, if you state something to someone your tree hugger but all these crazy things being said, can't we just be a logical species. you don't go upstream and relieve yourself
and go downstream for drinking water. we've gotten kind of good with the environment, and we are plaguing ourselves and that's how i feel . >> we will get a response . >> i appreciate the reference to the foaming mommy river, he's referring to a period of time when detergents were asked adding a lot of phosphates and so, this is a new load of phosphates and they got close a lot cleaner but also waterways a lot dirtier and provided a lot of nutrients in it was a real problem in the mid-1960s. that was solved the regulation, but that we no longer see see the visible sides from that problem but we do see visible problems in lake erie, including these gray algal blooms that happen every summer now, mostly
contributed by agricultural runoff. i will say is a broader comment , the visibility of environmental issues can be really important to gathering political will it's one of the reasons why the cuyahoga fire became so important because even though the image came from a different fire, the imagery of a river on fire really galvanized the whole. it's a recognition and it's one way to see water pollution to see a river on fire otherwise, as i said it's difficult to assess the ecological health of a river because you have to do tests and the issue of numbers and visibility. this is an issue that has plagued trying to solve the problem, the much larger problem of climate change. it's difficult to create this
political valence it gets people moving the way nixon loves to move in 1970 . >> audrey is an ex-color from decatur, alabama. good morning . >> good morning, i haven't called in about a year but you all have really touched on that i have ocd about. plastics. the plastic bottles, the plastic plates, the plastic jugs, i've told my sister and threatened to carry my cat later and i want to remind people know that this fourth of july, you can't find the little thin paper plates anymore, please, washer way and use your own silverware.
we love all you all, just have a wonderful day. thank you . >> audrey, thank you. what about the plastic bags and water bottles and other debris? >> that is certainly an ongoing problem in the ocean into which they flow. but we see them floating down the river which is been a long term problem but now the plastic last much longer and doesn't break down. so, she is absolutely right. this is something that needs attention. we go back to the first earth day in 1970, the focus there for students it was generally to pick up trash, much less of which would've been plastic at the time. that, there again, that effort was about visibility that you can see there's an ecological and environmental problem because you can see the trash.
so, even though it may not be the most urgent of issues in 1970, it was one that people felt that they could tackle that they could put effort into. i think that we see a lot of cleanup efforts along riverbanks and on the ohio i'm from cincinnati and every year we have a major cleanup around the riverbanks. and it's a visible problem with a very visible impact when you pick up the trash . >> with history of the cuyahoga river, the river that bends in cleveland ohio, there are reportedly at least 13 separate fires , the first dates back to 1868 the largest fire that we talked about a moment ago in 1952 at causing more than $1 million in damage and in 1969, time magazine described the cuyahoga is the river that loses rather than flows in which a person does not drowned but decays. a key person in all of this is the mayor of the and ohio and
the subject of part of the cover story carl stokes, his response all of this at the time ? >> so stokes is the first african-american mayor of any major city. and, he really understood the problems of urban america. he was raised in poverty himself hearing cleveland, he grew up in one of the most degraded neighborhoods in public housing in central. but he had kind of a unique view on the problems of urban america as far as major politicians are concerned. he well understood that concentrated poverty and adequate housing were primary concerns for residents in cleveland. but, he knew that cleveland itself could not recover if the water quality continued to diminish and
particularly if air quality continued to diminish. so, unlike many politicians of his era, he was, when he spoke about the problems of urban america, he completely mangled the environmental crisis with the urban crisis. he tended to talk about both at the same time. bypass solutions to one problem were not going to solve the problems of urban america you had to deal with all the problems that once. they were all interconnected. so, the day after the cuyahoga , fire on a sunday morning, so on a monday morning he calls and has his staff called together the local press and takes them on what my brother richard and i call the pollution to her., they meet at the railroad trestles were the fire to lace and he discusses generally the problems of water pollution in the cuyahoga and also lake erie, noting that the city of cleveland was really powerless to solve the problems of water pollution. in fact, much of the polluted water comes into cleveland from
the suburbs, from farther away cities like akron but, most directly from cuyahoga heights which is just beyond the city limits. so he talks about the way in which the suburbs themselves have not created and the treatment plants have not tied into the city but the state of ohio actually issued permits to industries inside of the city of wheatland that allowed them to pollute the cuyahoga river. there was very little that carl stokes could do himself to clean up the river. he needed allies, he needed suburbs to cooperate he needed the federal government to create new regulations and provide resources to expand sewage treatment, particularly . >> let's go to tom from twinsburg ohio, good morning . >> good morning c-span thanks for having me on. i just like to say i'm a proud clevelander and that from what i understand, the cuyahoga river wasn't the only river
that was catching on fire in those days, and that as soon as i have and i'm glad that the show is on and that should it showing the cuyahoga is cleaned up as much as it has, it's got 18 different new species, their species of fish coming back down to the river and we take pride in cleveland. unfortunately, we've taken the brunt of jokes after the river caught on fire but we still have it heard about that, other cities had the same problems. but that's all i had to say. thank you david and thank you c- span . >> as you look behind you you see a cargo ship in earlier we saw kayakers and this is really a cross-section for what the river is navigating . >> the river rouge and detroit,
terribly polluted industrial river and the buffalo, of yours, even the caught fire. so, it wasn't unheard of but what was interesting is that the cuyahoga river , fire much more than any other river and it's much more about the way the river operates as a river, it's a narrow, id, slow flowing river the mix of industry here, the number of bridges that caused obstructions and gathered debris, it was much more of a fire hazard than others but all of the ingredients were present in other places as well. he also points out that this becomes woven into the mistake on the lake reputation about cleveland. obviously, cleveland gets more negative attention but in the long term, it serves cleveland very well, this pathology but people begin to
think of this is an important watershed moment for significant attention to water pollution in the united states, and impetus to the in water act which came along in 1972. and all the weather waterways in the united states including lake erie behind me were terribly polluted, we began to weave a story that has the cuyahoga at the center of that. some think to be said -- go ahead . >> please continue . >> there's something to be said for which the city has taken pride in the improvements that have happened over the subsequent 50 years in the transformation of the banks along the river and opportunities to reimagine. but also the entire city of cleveland becoming a postindustrial city .
>> hosting the 2016 republican national convention and hosting the all-star games on many fronts working to come back i want to share more from the documentary the travelers from 1966 came back and saw this. [ train whistle ] [ train whistle ] ♪ >> by the time the cuyahoga reaches cleveland, there is little life of any kind in its water.
in a by the time the cuyahoga river reaches cleveland it's already dead, there's little life left, there are treatment plants and 28 known industries the race into the river, the cleveland treatment plan adds another 75 million gallons alone but now it is the river, known throughout the world is the only one . >> we talk a lot about cleaning this up because the cleanup on lake erie, you're not out in the lake so much you got a clean up the sources . >> industries find they have to it first, then many dirty more for the proposals for cleaning up the river.
second, we have to clean up the mess we have made for the p to get these all cleaned up. now we have to maclean up the mess we made >> from the 1971 film, a river dies, and epilogue, what changed between 1969 and 1971 until today. how did we get to this point >> there are several things that have affected this place in particular. obviously the federal regulation . [ train whistle ] [ laughter ] >> there you go. >> it's a living river. >> the federal regulation matters a lot but the investment and sewage treatment and making certain that suburban
communities tie into treatment plants at all matters. i also think in this particular location, the fact that so much of the industry has left means that clevelanders have to worry less about water and air pollution and with the evolving economy is going to become . >> with all these communities situation along the cuyahoga and the great lakes, what was the thinking of the executives basically used the rivers and lakes as a dumping ground >> i think found mostly, the idea is that the lakes and rivers could handle the pollution, at least early on. i think there is limited understanding of what happens to pollution once you put it in a waterway.
there is hope and expectation that pollutants would break down or simply be carried away. that is certainly the case for industry and communities that dumped into waterways that it would gradually be diluted and become harmless. of course, that is untenable when you get so much industry concentrated in one place. i figure out how to work into my capital infrastructure the incredible amount of investment necessary to change how much they perform basic processes >>. so they dump less into the cuyahoga river. some problems are more difficult technologic we dissolve and some are so difficult to industries a thickly stopped functioning and
moved to places where regulation is less intense . >> >> cuyahoga is an indian name which represents what? >> cuyahoga means crooked river and it gives the sense of how meandering the cuyahoga is. it's crooked in both sense, it's crooked here in the city of levon, the really dramatic and you can't get a sense from behind me but this is an artificial mouth punched out in the 19th century and the largest boat that just came by and startled me was coming out of the old river which took a sharp left. [ ship horn ] >> >> in the other sense the cuyahoga is crooked is it comes from the south around akron,
but the source is actually a little north and east of cleveland. so, it has excelled them back north . >> we welcome the radio audience, august is david stradling, where the river burned carl stokes in the struggle to save cleveland. mary is on the phone from peninsula, ohio . >> good morning. i actually, as a young girl i learned how to swim within the cuyahoga river in a small town called manta way before i get into akron. i grew up along the river. after you got past akron is where much of the pollution came. i'm 58 years old, so this fire occurred in 69 and i was literally nine years old at the time but it was all over the news. my father was a truck driver who hauled steel out of the
flats in cleveland. at that point in time you would not -- the air pollution was so bad you would not be able to see david where he is standing at this moment. 30 miles away from cleveland you could smell the air pollution and when you got to cleveland the air was with sulphur from the steel mills and other factories. the street lights were on in the middle of the afternoon because the air was so polluted and the residence in the houses that live close to the area, their homes were great with pollution. i've seen the cuyahoga river as a child and watched it literally it did not flow, it creeps along as a news, filled with foam, filled with floating dead fish and it was amazing because the area of the river i
buy was clean and we were swimming in catching fish. 30 miles away, you saw floating tires, floating logs, floating everything in boats upside down that were floating down the river. the stench that came from the river that came from the river and the health issues for anyone that lived in the area, it's a night and day difference between what it had been permitted to become to what it is now . >> mary, thanks for the firsthand account and i appreciate you joining in on the conversation . >> mary is calling from one of my favorite little towns in northern ohio, down inside of the national park on the cuyahoga valley. >> yes, she is absolutely right.
it was a major emphasis to the clearing out of the city, developers in the 1950s and 60s are building new subdivisions, well away from the industrial core as more americans have automobiles and can commute longer distances as we invest in highways so that people can take the longer commutes. people choose to live farther away from polluted environments. i believe that heating up, particularly air pollution and allowing people to return to beaches along lake erie in the city has been an important part of the revival of american cities including cleveland, and a less polluted urban environments, people feel much
more comfortable raising their children a much more comfortable spending their recreational time. so, i do think that kyle stokes was right when he indicated that you cannot solve the urban crisis in the united states without also solving the environmental crisis . >> it's a summer of 50th anniversaries, we talked about the stonewall uprising last week on july 22, 1969 that the cuyahoga river caught on fire, we are devoting this hour of the program to the anniversary and a reminder next month that is the neil armstrong moon landing, we will feature that in and up coming washtenaw -- washington journal program. jenny is on the phone from honolulu, hawaii. good morning . >> good morning to you and thank you for this program. i'm calling again about plastic. i was recently on the mainland, i'm from st. louis originally,
my visit is for two months i went to different gasoline stations, each time i filled up the asking can i get a match or a pack of matches or by matches. no. you can get them from the grocery store or big drugstores but you can't get matches anymore where bic lighters are sold in the greatest abundance. it's so funny, we usually get free matches every place cigarettes are sold they gave away matches and i think it's one of the polluting items that's unnecessary, and had when i've noticed everywhere i go is people use plastic containers for liquid soaps when they wash their hands when they used to pick up a bar of soap. nothing wrong with picking up a bar of soap to wash her hands
and all this extra plastic coming into our world makes me very sad. hawaii is very advanced thinking, we've got rid of plastic bags pretty much, we are attacking styrofoam and straws. i also want to say that rivers are attacked in another way besides pollutants, there also dammed up for recreational purposes and for making power generation and levies all over the place restraining rivers from flooding in agricultural areas but i think maybe we should take a letter step on the planet and stop being so abusive to mother earth you
can't rely on consumers . >> little decisions at up to a big impact on the environment. so we passed through the era of bottle laws where the new york state has one, many states have them, ohio does not but it requires you have a deposit on bottles and cans, including in states with bottled water. and the bottle laws, as troublesome as they may be for groceries . >> [ train whistle ] >> i think there's another big boat coming . >> it looks like it's a bridge that goes up and down behind you, depending . >> did it go up? >> there's a barge coming down
. >> there is a barge coming down, it may not go out to the lake they may seem obtrusive but they really matter. the litter in new york state plummeted after they passed the bottle law. it really is just the political power that certain corporations have that prevents more states from passing those kinds of laws. i think, we've seen communities , individual cities pass regulation regarding plastic bags in particular. as an indication that states have failed to regulate and they are unwilling to take the steps in the coming years as cities recognize that if someone is going to do something about problems like plastic pollution and broader problems like climate change they will have to make the steps mike is on
the phone from akron ohio part of where the cuyahoga is located doing a great job with barges and horns, it would startle anyone so thank you so much. [ laughter ] >> yes, i live in akron those to the past i've hiked the entire path from cleveland to southern county and south of fulton, the northern part of stark county. i'm very proud of it and this begins in the small city of burton and south into kent and then from there it goes west and it was very north. i grew up in a city called cuyahoga falls on the border of akron and there's a big dam on the border
of the two cities and by doing so it makes the water even better. and then to other rivers, the little river that flows into the river , it used to be called malibu golf course, that's where firestone dumped pollutants into the little river . just south of us is the test lewis river flowing south into the muskegon river and from there into the ohio river and akron is on the divide. even though we are much closer to lake erie then the mississippi river, only one fourth of the water that drops in ohio, rainwater, goes into lake erie. this water flows south into the ohio river and down the mississippi to new orleans. i went to the university in 1971 , i can tell you a whole lot
about may 4, 1970, but that's not what this phone call is about. as a student i used to hike along the river as well as as a young kid. and, one last thing, i lived by their nature realm across the street, the two mainly responsible for the national parks, republican and a democratic i love taking the train to the peninsula, one of the places in ohio. there is still work to be done, we have a lot of work to be done to get the river as clean as it should be but am very proud to be from this part of ohio . >> mike, thank you from akron. david? >> i'm glad he reference the towpath, he's talking about the ohio and erie canal, it went down the cuyahoga river valley
in that direction to connect to the ohio river. it was an important 19th century investment in the transportation infrastructure that help the region grow and eventually become the industrial center that it became. it is now being re-created into the entire length of it with the city of cleveland to become an important recreational route . and, to some people will that may not seem important but, it really is part of the remaking of an industrial city and postindustrial city to make this a more pleasant place to live, a happier place to live, healthier place to live these things all matter in an era where capital can move very freely. when the kinds of industries that we rely on now are not terribly placed and
steal maximum fracturing was. if cleo wants to attract more high-tech employees then creating a landscape that people can enjoy when they are not at work is an important part of the puzzle that needed to be done. i think he's describing important changes that have taken place over the last 30 years. i will emphasize these things don't happen by themselves, a lot of hard work gets done to make certain investments take place, lobbying local and state governments to make investments the local communities that do their part to make certain they take advantage of things like the towpath. it really is something that requires a lot of people's engagement . >> were seen that behind you with the barge ships in the recreational vessels, the co-
author of where the river burns and darrell is joining us from preston missouri . >> good morning. i grew up in michigan grandparents, had a farm in kingsville, ontario, canada. we used to swim in lake erie, every summer. i remember, the first year, that we could not go swimming was about 56-57 because there were so many dead perch and bass floating all around washed up on the shore it was horrible. >> thank you for the call, we go to joan in florida good morning to you. >> thank you for taking my call. i just returned from new york, i'm a resident of norman beach florida.
i was surprised to see in a supermarket they charge five cents for plastic bags, and all plastic products. water bottles, five cents on each bottle. >>we understand your point. you want to address that again? >> yes, i would like to address, the beach issue going swimming in lake erie. that was a thing that stokes tackled when he was mayor. he and he remembered her he talked about you know there was a lot of jurisdiction through canada. but, there are two beaches here in the city of cleveland, one of them is to the west of us, and it is a very close to its sewage treatment plant that is also to the west of us.
it was much too polluted in the 1960s and 70s to swim any more. carl stokes wanted to make sure city access city goers had city access and further out of the cities clean enough to swim in. city residents could not do that. he and his director, devised a system by which they dropped plastic sheeting into the lake, and beyond the plastic sheeting, they dumped chlorine. it killed all of the fish and they would clean the beach of the dead fish and then open up the beach for swimming and some people this seemed rather miraculous that they could take
advantage of this resource for our distance, they seem like a unfortunate baby step. so it's good to so solve local problems. so they did cleanup lake erie more generally. >> is it a fair assessment that they have done a good job in doing so? >> there has been a good uptake. this is true on a lot of american waterways. that real estate along the lakefront's, and riverfront's, have increased, and value. part of that has to do with an earlier caller. with the stench that is mostly
no longer there and people can think about the lake and river as part of truly an ecological and recreational space. that makes it much more attractive to the changed meaning it makes it more attractive so we've seen a lot more investment along water ways lake erie included. c macdonald is next from cincinnati. good morning. >> good morning you guys. i was 14 years old when the fire happened, i vaguely remember hearing about it. i was more concerned about the ohio river. i remember, not being able to eat the fish you caught it. coming from the ohio river. nobody would do that.
i think what you said earlier, is absolutely true, they thought that it would just wash away. and we have learned, and i'm glad for that. ohio is a much nicer river now. >> david? >> yes, the ohio has a much more complicated history in part because it's a much larger river and travels through a lot of industrial regions, it has its origins in pittsburgh, much of the chemicals in west virginia flows past the city of cincinnati. it's affluent from the chemical factories so certainly remember also, the chemical spills in the city of cincinnati they would have to close the water intake.
an indication, there is work to be done. these are cleaner landscapes, but not perfectly clean landscapes. we've seen backtracking, as far as environmental regulation is concerned. so they can be enforced locally and not regionally which is very problematic. i do not know if people think, the success have been so complete that we can dismantle our regulatory system. i do think, that set us up for sure. for future failures. >> wayne from bolton mississippi? >>you know one of your just now,
everyone is watching seeing the kayak go by the site a few minutes ago it's incredible. this has to be one of your greatest segments and the episode. it's beautiful. it is just so wonderful you have done a great job. you are really a likable looking guy and you're doing a great job. >> thank you for the call and comments we appreciate that. >> who knew it would be such an active segment. >> especially on a sunday morning obviously it is a beautiful day for boaters in cleveland they are not also beautiful we were not
anticipating this much commercial industry. >> the fire took place june 22, 1969 and a year later earth day occurred the very first one, how did the cleveland area react to that? >>my brother and i, thought that we were going to write a history of the relationship to the city of cleveland and the river. basically, all longer, biography of the river a few well. [indiscernible]
>> both locally and nationally, it gives you a level of concern about the environment and a willingness to take steps to do something, to clean up the environment. here in cleveland, hundreds of children, wrote as part of a school project or on their own a letter to carl stokes about the environment about their concerns. many of them were about air pollution. overwhelmingly the number one concern, of these children were air-quality. fast behind that was concern about water quality. the vast majority of those students, discussed lake erie, particularly for suburban kids inability to fish in lake erie any longer, the commercial fishery had collapsed, they were no longer suggesting people could eat the fish that they did catch. so it was problematic and
finding places to swim in lake erie. it was real loss to the region. what surprises richard and myself, very, very few students wrote about the cuyahoga river at all. only one of the hundreds of letters, that the cuyahoga river caught fire. so 10 months after it was burning it didn't matter that much to local conceptions about the marital crisis. they didn't actually need a river catching fire to let them know, the industrial landscape here in cleveland was terribly polluted, they have lots of other concerns particularly the air-quality. >>he is a co-author of where the river burned, coral stokes and the struggle to save cleveland. joining us along the cuyahoga
river, 50 years after the fire in june 1969, thank you for being with us, and doing a lot of good work even though there so much noise behind you. >> thank you it was a pleasure. this is a special edition of american history tv. a sample of the compelling history programs that air every weekend, on american history tv. like lectures in history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our history. enjoy american history tv, now and every weekend, on cspan3. >> this weekend on book tv. saturday at 5:55 eastern, feral discusses his book the boy crisis why our boys are struggling, and what we can do about it. >> success, you know they need to be liked and have friends
and that prevents them from going into depression when boys do not have that success, they tend to go down the slippery slope, like a worst-case scenario move case to depression, anger, withdrawal, alienation, and mass shootings. >> @eight eastern such a pretty girl, this -- disability rights activists who contracted polio as a baby talks about growing up with a disability. >> my mother told the women, already talking at 16 months and walking on my own and i was never say i would never stick to let people night, when i got polo polio. it it invaded our happy home and still me from my family. >> sunday, at 9 pm eastern on after work, former virginia democratic governor talks about
his book, beyond charlottesville. taking a stand against white nationalism. >> i think it's a value for people that wow, the president can come out and see that stuff so can i. that emboldens people not makes people feel comfortable coming to charlottesville. if he can say publicly so can i. people used to wear hoods and make a point of saying, the city does that night, they don't think they have to wear hoods anymore. in charlottesville they came out this was a big coming-out party. they got hurt badly in charlottesville. >> watch book tv every weekend on cspan 2. saturday at 8 pm eastern on lectures and history, female activist and the 1960s civil rights movement. >> while women were instrumental in helping organize, and put the march together, the event was purely dominated by men. >> sunday 4:30 p.m. eastern. >> a global significance of the declaration of independence, during and after the american revolution. >> multiple things of our
declaration make our way to venezuela, colombia and ecuador over the course of the 50 year period after 1776. a half-century known to scholars as the age of revolution. >>at 6 pm, eyewitness accounts from inside the white house, during the apollo 11 lunar landing. >> we really staked ourselves into the cabinet room there throughout the day you can see, the darts -- the dark windows, the module landed, at 4:15 in the afternoon and then the astronaut did not walk until later. >> display our nations pass on american history tv every weekend on cspan3. the cuyahoga river as most think of it, the stream that makes leak -- la