Browse Interviews

  • Collection: Rivers Roads and Rails
77 total

Lester gives an well-rounded history of the town of Dover, Ohio. His interest in and appreciation for Dover's history and history in general stems from the work his family has done in this field. The subjects he discusses are vast in scope. Everything from racial discrimination to the Ohio Canal are discussed in detail as they pertain to Dover.…

Jacqueline and Jane discuss various aspects of the Moravian Church and its role in Dover's history. They discuss indepth the history of the church, special ceremonies, the foundation of the church, and how the church has played a significant role in the town's development. Interview was conducted by various members of the Rivers Roads and Rails…

An equipment operator and work leader, Tim Atkinson his role in the Park staff. Discussed are the means by which Atkinson evolved from a volunteer position to a leader in various projects and the challenges posed to staff personell. These include the seasonality of trails, seasonality of staffing, and the extensive flooding damage to the Towpath.…

Jeff Lennartz, acting treasurer of the West Creek Preservation Committee and a development engineer, addresses viable fundraising and economic issues facing the group and the effects on projects. Accompanying this discussion are the social, political, and fiscal challenges that are at the core of preservation and conservation and the impact they…

Jon Elsasser is the president of the Zoar Board of the Ohio & Erie Canal Association and Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Timken Company. Elsasser discusses Towpath Trail surfacing and bridge repairs after the 2005 flood and his hope that the trail will move beyond Zoar. He also discusses the semi-annual Civil War…

David Whited is Chief of Planning & Development for Summit County Metro Parks. Trained in Landscape Architecture, Whited oversees new bike trails, towpath completion, and land acquisitions. In this interview, he discusses Munroe Falls, Nature Realm, and plans to develop Cascade Valley Park. He provides some of the history of Summit Metro Parks,…

Jim Biggar discusses his background in mechanical engineering and work with water and sewer companies and projects. Biggar discusses also the development of Stouffer and Biggar Farms and their creation as park land. Biggar Farm's transformation into Glen Cairn Forest is also discussed, with an emphasis on connecting local residents to park trails.

Randy Bergdorf reflects on his role in the 1992 study for the funding of roads and his work on the Towpath Trail project. A library employee with a passion for history, Bergdorf discusses his passion for preserving and relating the history of the park to citizens. Challenges to this and other endeavors such as the Roads Project include the…

Christine Freitag, curator of Botany at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and native of Akron talks about her work with Ohio's conservation effort, focusing primarily on the the impact on the natural landscape, wildlife, and environment in the region.

Irene Toth, a member of the board of trusttees of WCPC and an amatuer historian discusses both the history of the West Creek area and her life in Cleveland since 1928. Also discussed are the positive environmental effects of the project and the social identification of the "naturalist group" she is a part of. Toth also examines the group's future…

John Debo is Superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He talks about the influence of Earth Day and the environmental movement on his decision to seek a job in the National Park Service. He arrived to take a summer job at what was then the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area having never visited. He discusses the state of the park in…

Dean Perry was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to northeastern Ohio as a child. Perry began working as a seasonal motor vehicle operator in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the early 1980s and eventually worked his way up to supervisor of grounds and trails. Perry discusses the remedial work required restore the Canal Visitor Center and…

Involved in historic development in Cleveland, especially the warehouse district and gateway district, Cleveland native Thomas Yablonsky discusses the Ohio and Erie Canal He is on the Ohio and Erie Canal association board as well as the Ohio canal corridor. He also discusses the changes and developments in the Tremont region.

Active in pressuring Parma's City Council in the late 1960s and 1970s, Anthony Spzak reflects on his past work to improve the landfill conditions of the city in order to protect his children and family. Motivated again by health in relation to sewage, Spzak discusses his motivation for working with WCPC to halt the building of a golf course and to…

The President, Creative Director, and Project Coordinator of Herip Design Associates, Walt Herip discusses the economic and historical developmental changes of the Penninsula since 1970. After his graduate studies in Europe ended in 1976, Herip began his company in 1980 and was chosen to design the 25th anniversary logo for the Cuyahoga Valley…

Bridget Garvin gives background, childhood memories in Toledo, and inspiration to work in the perservation field. Describes Cascade Locks,including some history, benefits, and passion to curb suburban sprawl.Garvin notes some milestones in using the Cascade Locks to link the city as a boost to the economy, rather then just a park. Discusses…

Bob Hunker discusses the creation of the Peninsula Group with the intention of preserving Valley buildings and heritage. Hunker reflects on his work in the preservation of Bronson Church and the historical development and changes to the organization and preservation endeavors in Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Association as it is now known…

Ron White discusses his work as the Director of Economic Development for the city of Independence and emphasizes how local environmental projects are affecting his city particularly. White discusses how the regional developmental projects are connected intrinsically to the city's "two year plan," which includes property development, land and…

Virginia B. Wanjo Forney discusses the recent history of Mustill House and Store at Cascade Locks Park.

A New York native, Louise Nahas reflects on her exploration of the park trails with friends as well as her husband. The two of them, volunteers at the Happy Days Visitor Center, experienced the ever-widening geographical radius of visitors to the park and the variety of programming. Nahas also discussed challenges in budgeting as well as the…

A graduate of Kent State University in urban geography, Jim Kastlic outlines his vision for reconstructing the towpath trail. Centered around the national park, Kastlic outlines how the towpath can provide Cleveland with a sense of history, economic opportunites through tourism, and how the towpath falls in line with new residential visions. This…

Patty Schwalbach grew up in Akron in the 1950s-70s and returned in 2005 after 25 years in Los Angeles. She describes her work in the late 1970s in the Akron housing department and the condition of Akron's Cascade Locks Park at that time. She discusses how a man named Pete Ramnytz was the first to see Cascade Locks' potential. Upon Schwalbach's…

An employee of the Ohio EPA, Steve Tuckerman discusses his work in managing water quality in Ohio and his current work in improving the Cuyahoga River watershed. As an employee of the EPA, Tuckerman outlines the goals of the EPA in maintaining dams and other watersheds in the area, including the protection of habitats for wildlife and ensuring…

Tom and Bertha Jones are longtime residents of the Cuyahoga County in Summit County. Tom and his father built Tamson Park in Peninsula, while Bertha was a township clerk. When the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was formed, the Joneses sold their home to the NPS, accepted a twenty-year residency, and now rent from the park. In this interview they…

Irv and Dorothy Hazel discuss their work with the West Creek Conservation effort, primarily focusing on their roles as contributors. The interview focuses great attention on the origin of the organization and discusses critical fundraising, financial, legal, and environmental concerns within the internal controls of the group. Briefly, the couple…

Robert Greytak, a resident of Parma and graduate of CSU's civil engineering program, discusses his leadership of and work with the West Creek Reservation Committee. While focusing primarily on fundraising and the arduous process of receiving grants, Greytak also details his rise in the organization and his passion for environmental conservation. As…

Tom Fritsch works in the Akron Metro Area Transportation Study (AMATS) division of the City of Akron, mapping short- and long-range plans for federal funding. He became an environmental activist in college, motivated by an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Fritsch conducted school-bus tours of the park for children, helped in the Beaver Pond and…

Ellen Otto of the Cascade Locks Park Association relates the history of the Cascade Locks area of Akron, including the Irish and German immigrants who built the Ohio Canal, the Great Migration in which African Americans brought jazz to the Howard Street district near the canal in the interwar years of the early-mid 20th century, her own family's…

Robert Eckardt of the Cleveland Foundation discusses his work in the fundraising and grant writing for the creation of National Parks in Northeast Ohio. Echardt discusses in detail the Trust for Public Land grant and the role of the Cleveland Foundation in securing land for National Parks in the recent years. The interview also discusses newer…

Tom Long, a design and parks development expert, discusses a city/park partnership working towards completing eight developmental units, including plans for the Towpath Trail along the Ohio Canal. Birth of the Cascade Locks Park Association and the movement toward the parks' grand opening as more organizations got involved, fundraising for the…

Pat White, a former mayor of Bolivar, Ohio, got involved in the Ohio Canal project through Dick Lebold. As Mayor, she supported the project despite the cost overruns and slow pace because of what she viewed as its commercial, employment, and public advantages. She lists various fund-raising events, discusses grant funds for park purchase, and how…

Elaine Marsh of the Friends of the Crooked River talks about growing up in Cleveland and moving to Independence as a teenager in 1959. She recalls canoeing on the Cuyahoga River, camping with her family, sleeping in deserted areas of the Cuyahoga Valley on the hottest summer nights, hiking in the area at a time when its limited access afforded…

Phil January is president of the board of Cascade Locks Park Association. In this interview he discusses the beginnings of Cascade Park in the 1980s, fundraising and committee efforts, and membership growth. He highlights the Mustill Store, rehabbing, and historical choices made around the canal, and ideas for current and future development…

Jerry Hruby has served as the Mayor of Brecksville, Ohio, since 1988 and serves on the advisory board of the National Park Service. He discusses studies of deer, coyotes, drainage, and wetlands in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the 2006 flood, bald eagles in the park, the Ohio Canal as living history, park superintendent John Debo, and the…

Kathy Fernandez has lived in Zoar and worked for the Ohio Historical Society there since 1975. She discusses the formation of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and its role in getting the canal designated a national heritage area in 1996. She also discusses congressman Ralph Regula's vision for the canal in the 1960s. She notes the challenges that…

Tim Donovan explains his work with the Ohio Erie Canal Corridor and the Erie Canalway Association. Focused on articulating a sense of Cleveland's history and culture through a Canal Heritage project, Donovan believes that a connection and understanding of the Canal and its usefulness both historically and in the present can reinvigorate the city of…

Kerry Metzger moved to New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1978. He gave up his dental practice to become a Tuscarawas County Commissioner. In this capacity he oversees the purchase of land for bridge planned to connect the Towpath Trail over I-77 as well as working to secure the lands needed to extend the trail from Dover to New Philadelphia. He discusses…

Terry Stahurski discusses his work in West Creek Preservation after a court ruling that resulted in the destruction of wooded areas of the west side. Hoping to preserve green space, reduce pollution, and secure environmental protection, Stahurski began grantseeking and fundraising. He describes the environmental degradation in the West Creek…

A Detroit native, Chris Soukoup discusses the legal aspect of land acquisition for West Creek. His legal perspective specifically addresses the challenging and paradoxical issue of land preservation and commercial development. Using first hand accounts and experience, Soukoup explains how urban commericial development can be achieved without…

Pete Ramnytz was born in Akron, and in 1955 he and his parents moved into the Mustill store in the Cascade Locks Park. In this interview Ramnytz recalls living in the house and his parent's attempts to get the city of Akron to buy the property to preserve to place's history.

Peg Bobel grew up in Akron and became interested in nature by spending time in Virginia Kendall Park and Munroe Falls, which led to her environmentalist activism, including in the Sierra Club. Bobel later served as Executive Director of the Cuyahoga Valley Association (later CVNPA) from 1989 to 2001. She wrote "Trail Guide to the Park," "Nature of…

Pete Henderson is a past leader of the Cuyahoga Valley Community Council. In this interview he discusses his city and regional planning background and the challenges he addressed in the Cuyahoga Valley, including overcoming local governments' fears that a national park threatened to reduce the tax base through acquisition of otherwise developable…

Chuck Knaak retired as a high school teacher to work on the Tuscarawas County Lands Committee. He discusses the completion of a segment of the Towpath Trail to Zoar, plans for a towpath bridge over I-77, the economic impact and educational value of the project, the creation of a canal museum as part of the Zoar town hall renovation, the history of…

Birdie Smith was a volunteer tour guide for school groups in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreational Area in the 1970s before it became Cuyahoga Valley National Park. She discusses the use of eminent domain Land for park land acquisition. She notes how a former dump site became the Beaver Pond, leading to a return of wildlife. Smith discusses the…

Richard Leibold discusses the origins and impact of the Zoar Canal Project. He describes the effort to build the Towpath Trail along I-77, the work to complete a segment of the trail to Zoar and Fort Laurens State Park, and some historical background on the town of Bolivar along the Ohio Canal.

Joel Testa is the chief operating officer of Testa Companies, a real estate development firm. Testa discusses his background in industrial design, his company's growth and various projects it has undertaken, and the potential for bringing a "Manhattan lifestyle" to downtown Akron through development that correlates with the Towpath Trail. He also…

Mark Slater discusses his background in historic preservation and work with the Cuyahoga National Park. He reflects on the restoration of the Mustill House and Store in 1999 his work on park structures and farmsteads. Slater discusses his role in community relations, particularly creating a culture landscape with an emphasis on heritage and…

A native of Germany, Siegfried Buerling discusses his work with the Western Reserve Historical Society as well as the resurgance of Hale Farm and Village. Discussing the challenge of the inclusion of RR into the process and the role of the National Park Service, Siegfried Buerling also discusses first person interpretation. Discussed in detail are…

Chair of Zoar Area Committee of Tuscarawas Canal Association. Sixmile trail with old Iron Bridge, pedestrian bridges, and culverts. Thirteen years of trail development through funding grants. Recreational potential; good public support. Issues of I-77 bridge and problems raised by property owners along path. Dream of a working lock. A locate a lock…

Sue Klein is a volunteer in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a board member in the CVNP Association. She moved to the Akron area in 1968 and became active in efforts to safeguard the Cuyahoga Valley from over-development. She discusses the role of the CNVP Association is getting the valley designated as a national park unit in the 1970s and…