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CVNP Park Ranger Rebecca Jones Macko to Speak About Ohio & Erie Canal Stories, Divulge History and New Revelations
Park Ranger Rebecca Jones Macko speaks with passion and purpose when it comes to her workplace and our regional treasure, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). On Thursday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m., Jones Macko will be the featured speaker for the monthly program of the Hudson Heritage Association (HHA) at Barlow Community Center.
While Jones Macko is an expert in the CVNP, she also is deeply versed in a wonder that pre-dated it and runs through it, the Ohio & Erie Canal. Built between 1825 and 1832, inspired by the earlier vision of President George Washington, the Canal’s contributions to the making of America are comprehensive.
Meant to connect New York City, the Hudson River, Lake Erie and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, the Ohio & Erie Canal was instrumental in the maturation of the nation. It afforded westward expansion and new prosperity in Ohio, including the emergence of Cleveland as a port and manufacturing center. While these developments created commerce and wealth in Cleveland, they also led to the degradation of its waterways, punctuated by the Cuyahoga River fire, which put the region on the map for all the wrong reasons.
Jones Macko is passionate about the renewal of Cleveland’s natural resources, grateful that deterioration ultimately led to reclamation.
“The National Park was created out of land that had been used, abused and left in ruin, places where people didn’t see the potential. We cleaned it up by letting nature do what nature does. It is a story of redemption.”
The Ohio & Erie Canal, which Jones Macko describes as one-third of the “braided backbone of the CVNP,” also including the Cuyahoga Scenic Railroad and the Cuyahoga River, stayed in use until 1913, functioning in its later years as a recreational channel of sorts, once railroads replaced many of the Canal’s functions. Ohioans began to use the Canal for leisurely boat outings and even early-century pub crawls at watering holes that sprung up on the banks.
Jones Macko’s talk, “Stories of the Ohio & Erie Canal,” will provide a quick history of the Canal and reveal more recent findings about its history. She will share these new discoveries, exploring what the Canal meant for the average citizen, but also what it meant for those who were not citizens. Jones Macko has worked for the National Park Service for more than 30 years, with the majority at the CVNP. She also held positions at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, and in the Great Smoky Mountains and the Everglades.