Time Magazine

Arrye Rosser opens a 1969 issue of Time Magazine that shined a spotlight on the Cuyahoga River.
Mark Arehart / WKSU

When the Cuyahoga River caught fire 50 years ago it helped spark an environmental movement in America. However, there was little coverage at the time and no known photographic evidence of the actual blaze.

A photo that appeared in a 1969 Time Magazine article is often attributed to the fire.

For our latest story in our series Watershed, a look at the power of photography and how it’s shaped our understanding of the burning river.

photo of 1952 Cuyahoga River fire
CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY/PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION

Water isn’t supposed to burn.

The burning river showed us otherwise.