Clean Water Act: Did Burning River Really Fuel Landmark Law's Passage?

"In 1969, Cleveland's Cuyahoga River burned for the last time. It was a short blaze, under control within 30 minutes and fully extinguished within two hours.

One firefighter told local press, who arrived on the scene too late to photograph any flames, that it "wasn't that big a deal." The head of Cleveland's Fire Department called the blaze "unremarkable" because the only damage it caused were a few warped railroad ties.

That's the true story.

But it's not how the Cuyahoga River fire — which occurred 50 years ago this week — is often remembered."

Ariel Wittenberg reports for Greenwire June 18, 2019.


"50 Years Later: Burning Cuyahoga River Called Poster Child For Clean Water Act" (NPR)

"The Cuyahoga River Caught Fire at Least a Dozen Times, but No One Cared Until 1969" (Smithsonian)

Source: Greenwire, 06/19/2019