The Day the River Caught Fire: How the Cuyahoga River Exploded and Ignited the Earth Day Movement
Author: Barry Wittenstein
Illustrator: Jessie Hartland
Discover the true story of how a 1969 fire in one of the most polluted rivers in America sparked the national Earth Day movement in this nonfiction picture book by award-winning author Barry Wittenstein and beloved illustrator Jessie Hartland.
After the Industrial Revolution in the 1880s, the Cayuhoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire almost twenty times, earning Cleveland the nickname “The Mistake on the Lake.” Waste dumping had made fires so routine that local politicians and media didn’t pay them any mind, and other Cleveland residents laughed off their combustible river and even wrote songs about it.
But when the river ignited again in June 1969, the national media picked up on the story and added fuel to the fire of the recent environmental movement. A year later, in 1970, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency—leading to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts—and the first Earth Day was celebrated. It was a celebration, it was a protest, and it was the beginning of a movement to save our planet.