Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size

Roots Revealed Blog

Doug Kusak

Doug KusakDoug has a lifelong love of learning and a desire to spread enthusiasm for the wonders all around us. He's always looking for ways to make things more fun. Ongoing exploits include Cleveland Metroparks (since 2007), Steamship Wm. G. Mather Museum (since 2003), and Great Lakes Science Center (since 2002). He also works professionally as an actor/voice-over artist, dabbles in stand-up comedy, and enjoys inflicting his creative writing upon the unsuspecting masses.


Where the Towpath Ends - Part 1 of 2
Posted: 3/16/2016
Where the Towpath Ends – Part 1 of 2 Those great philosophers, the Rolling Stones, once posited, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.” The Towpath Trail is the name of a transportation and recreation trail which will eventually extend from New Philadelphia to Cleveland. It basically follows an historic towpath (path traversed by animals towing canal boats) running alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal for as long as practicable.  image co...


Time Wharf
Posted: 9/16/2015
Time Wharf   The area of the Cuyahoga River around Rivergate Park and Merwin’s Wharf is seeing an increase in recreational users and their human-powered watercraft. Rowers have been using the area for decades and their regattas now draw competitors from neighboring states; dragon boaters paddle with the intensity of people with fire in their bellies; and kayakers are abundant enough that it’s not unusual to see their lot portage the parking areas. But a lot like life, we usually need to move aside ...


"Schreck" Lives! at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Posted: 6/18/2015
“Schreck” Lives!   at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo   Viktor Schreckengost   was one of the most prolific ceramicists/sculptors/painters/designers/Clevelanders for the better part of eight decades. And, while he passed away in 2008 at the age of 101, some of his work lives on in Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Victor Schreckengost was born in Sebring, Ohio in 1906. His father and two uncles were commercial potters, so Victor may have gotten something of a head start in ceramics by playing with the c...


Cleveland Riches Flowed from Ditches
Posted: 12/19/2014
Cleveland Riches Flowed from Ditches   Cleveland riches flowed from ditches. One really long ditch, in particular. And it’s a little hard to believe the glory, the wealth, and the growth that flowed forth from here: Not from those tall buildings in the background, but from a ditch on the other side of these cars.   Look closer (parking lot in first picture is to the right in this picture):   Digging around in some of this past year’s blogs, Judy MacKeigan’s “Down in the Flats” entry from ...


Weir Here!
Posted: 10/15/2014
  Weir along Towpath Trail in Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal The point of a canal – a man-made waterway – is to control an amount of water and where it flows so that it can be used reliably for transportation, recreation, irrigation, etc. You need enough water to achieve and maintain the desired depth, but don’t want too much water as that can lead to erosion of the canal walls and potentially the inability to maintain a sufficient amount of water in the canal. The Ohio & Erie Canal...


Straight from the Canal. Almost.
Posted: 8/20/2014
Straight from the Canal. Almost. “Crooked river” is the most commonly accepted translation of “Cuyahoga River,” as it is most commonly spelled. And it certainly deserves that moniker. Starting about 35 miles east of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River twists and turns as it heads southwest toward Akron, and then makes a U-turn and twists and turns its way northwest toward Cleveland. The last one or two thousand feet of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland is where its name seems least applicable . . . because the ...


Are We There Yet?
Posted: 6/18/2014
“Are we there yet?” How many times have you heard that during a family car trip?  Have you ever felt trapped within the confines of the family vehicle?  It seems like the little ones get antsy on any trip that stretches beyond ten minutes. Now imagine it’s the 1800s, and you own and operate a canal boat on the Ohio and Erie Canal . . . and your family lives with you on the boat. “How much longer?” Nowadays we have all sorts of distractions at the ready to occupy our occupants and make our trav...


Western Wheels or Water
Posted: 1/29/2014
Imagine you and your family packing everything you own into a horse drawn wagon and moving to the wild Northwest Territory. You’re going to start a new life in the wilderness. When you arrive, you’ll immediately need to clear a section of dense forest and/or drain a section of swamp so you can build a home and plant crops, hoping that you can survive the first winter. Everything you take on the journey (including food, clothing, supplies, etc.) can weigh no more than about one ton (2,000 pounds) - depen...


It's Water Over the Bridge
Posted: 12/25/2013
Aqueduct For those who’ve ever wondered what an aqueduct is, we’d like to provide you with an earworm clue. Ready? Sing: “Like a bridge over troubled water . . .” Okay. Sorry ‘bout that. But the song may help you to remember that an aqueduct is most closely associated with a bridge that conveys water over a lower-lying area. In the case of the Ohio & Erie Canal, that often means an aqueduct conveys the metered, calm flow of canal water over other natural and potentially more turbulent waterways: riv...


Start a Park
Posted: 11/25/2013
Did you ever want to do something grand? Something so awesome and amazing that you just knew people would love it, but it was almost impossible to do... because it was illegal? Should you push forward to start on your vision, knowing with almost absolute certainty that there was no way it would be completed within your lifetime? How do you make it legal? Where do you begin? Such were the dilemmas facing William Stinchcomb. He envisioned reserving the increasingly scarce undeveloped land around the city ...


What's in a Name? -- Tremont
Posted: 9/25/2013
  Tremont's vibrancy is shared with its namesake school Throughout your history, you’ve probably been called a variety of different names, ranging from what’s printed on your birth certificate to what your family and friends call you, to what you like to be called. You’re you, but you’re called something different by different people. The same can be said of certain neighborhoods. Most Clevelanders of today know something about the Tremont neighborhood, but a Clevelander of just over 100 years ago ...


The Shape of Things - a Canal Prism
Posted: 8/28/2013
A little digging can help you understand the shape of things when we talk about digging the Ohio Canal (later called the Ohio & Erie Canal). We often speak about the canal’s minimum dimensions being 40’ wide at the top, 26’ wide at the bottom, and 4’ deep. It’s a trapezoidal shape, referred to as a canal's prism (imagine an upside down triangle with the lower third lopped off). It could be wider and deeper at any section, but it had to be at least those dimensions in every section (except for the lo...


“Why the Long Rope, Bub?” – Etiquette on the Canal
Posted: 7/24/2013
Did you ever see a picture of a canal boat being towed by a team and wonder, “Why is that rope so long?”    Let’s start with canal operation. The Ohio & Erie Canal is at least 40 feet across (at the top) and is filled with water (ideally). Water flows downhill. Canal boats however, are moving in both directions. The boats are towed behind a team of horses or mules, and that team is led down the towpath situated alongside the canal. While the boats move in both directions, the towpath is on...


A Lesson in Trestlin’ (or, You’ve Been Trained)
Posted: 6/26/2013
  Looming large across Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation (OECR) is a rather impressive two-track trestle. Guests to CanalWay Center and OECR are treated to the frequent familiar rumblings from the upwards of 50 freight trains per day. Tons upon tons of material roll across the 1,988’ metal marvel at all hours of the day. Sections of the Cuyahoga River, the Ohio & Erie Canal and the Towpath Trail seem dwarfed as they lie 160’ below. "Hidden Valley" guests who gaze skyward often ponder the trestl...


Canal Water Here and There
Posted: 5/22/2013
One of the questions we hear a lot at Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation is, "Why do some sections of the canal have water and others do not?" The answer is somewhat complicated, so we'll try to simplify it a bit. In the early 1800s, Cleveland was a small town next to a major river. Industries that required large amounts of water (for cooling, dilution, cleaning, etc.) needed to be close to the Cuyahoga River or move to surrounding areas that had rivers and streams. The Cleveland Water Department did not...