Brecksville, Ohio

In 1969, the Cuyahoga River, like many other urban waterways, was in bad shape, suffering from years of industrial abuse. That year, an oil slick on the river caught fire, attracting national media attention and public concern.

The ’69 Cuyahoga Fire (which, remarkably, was a rather common occurrence, not an anomaly), is at least partially credited with sparking significant movement towards the federal Clean Water Act of 1972, as well as other federal, state and local laws aimed at making U.S. waterways safe.

We wanted to see this famous river up close, and also do some filming and photography for possible inclusion in “Changing Currents.”


Little did we know that in addition to seeing the Cuyahoga, we were also in for another treat that even Ohioans had not seen for quite a while. It turns out that 2016 is in the life cycle of 17-year cicadas, insects that spend 17 years underground, then emerge in the billions to mate, spawn, die, and then start the cycle all over again. According to news reports, at the height of their season, there can be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre in Northeastern Ohio.

Chris and Rachel got up close and personal with some cicadas, which are brown and orange with red eyes and can be more than an inch in length.

The big bugs perch in trees, fly around, and make a deafening sound that, the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, referred to as “a clamor akin to a chorus of chain saws.”

From the Cleveland area, we headed due South to Cincinnati, the last stop on this leg of production for “Changing Currents.”

 For photos of our time at the Cuyahoga, please visit our Cuyahoga River gallery page.