Photo of the Cuyahoga River with downtown Cleveland in the background

History’s John Grabowski highlights the past struggles against disease that Cleveland’s pioneers overcame

Cleveland Pioneers Persevered Through The Ague

Ideastream:  John Grabowski,  Krieger-Mueller Joint Professor in History, spoke about the outbreak of disease known as the ague, that affected Cleveland’s early non-indigenous settlers battled in the early 1800’s—thanks, in part, to the stagnant flow of the Cuyahoga River: “What really needed to be done was the river needed to be cleaned up and straightened a little bit in the mouth so it would flow freely and the water wouldn’t back up and continue to create this problem,” said Grabowski, who sees a parallel to today: “The only thing that really would clear this up for Cleveland though interestingly was federal action in the 1820s, which basically cleared the sand out of the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and began to allow it to be more free flowing or more rapidly flowing. That would begin to dispel some of the miasma that was around there.”