The Cuyahoga River passes through much of the industrial area that surrounds Cleveland, Ohio.
For decades, factories, cities, and towns got rid of their sewage and industrial waste, by dumping them into the river. From time to time, conservationists and other people worried about pollution complained.
Indeed, many people complained. The river didn’t look as nice as it once did, and everybody likes to look at a beautiful river! Then, one day in 1969, the impossible happened.
The river caught fire. Whoever heard of water catching fire? Of course, it wasn’t the water that was burning, it was all that waste that everybody had been throwing into it. In a way, it was lucky that the river caught fire when it did. The fire made everybody in the country think about water pollution and how we were spoiling all of our lovely lakes and rivers by filling them with waste material.
Twenty years after the Cuyahoga caught fire, after a great deal of hard work and the spending of a great deal of money, the river is much cleaner.
Fish that had vanished are returning to swim in its waters, and people are beginning to enjoy its beauty once again.