I-480/80 East: Cleveland
to Youngstown, Ohio
The program for this
route starts where I-480 separates from I-271, southeast of Cleveland. We pass
Twinsburg before reaching the Ohio Turnpike where I-480 ends. Continuing east on
the Turnpike, we pass Ravenna, Windham, and Warren on our way to Youngstown.
At Youngstown, we have a choice of continuing on the Ohio Turnpike,
which becomes I-76 and heads to Pittsburgh. Or, we can stay on I-80, which
becomes a free interstate and goes due east through Pennsylvania toward New
During the early sections of this route, you might be surprised
at how much forest you travel through, given the proximity of Cleveland―a
major metropolitan center. Much of this land was once agricultural but has
now returned to forest. This demonstrates a trend throughout the state. When
white settlers arrived in Ohio country, it was 95% forested land. By the year
1900, that figure was down to 10%. But trees are making a comeback: presently
about 30% of Ohio land is forested.
As you continue along this route, you'll notice that some of
farm buildings are in disrepair or abandoned; some of the fields have not been
planted. This is a clue about the economy of the area. Farming is in
decline--it's hard to make a living on the land, and most farmers who remain
have day jobs to pay the bills. Clues to the new economy? Well, watch for what's
newly constructed, what seems fresh and well maintained.
Take a look on your roadmap and northeast of Ravenna you'll see
either a large blank area or a notation for the Ravenna Arsenal. What's the
Ravenna Arsenal? During World War II it was the largest arms producing facility
in the nation. At its peak 14,000 people worked here. Today, it's the focus of a
clean-up operation to make the area safe and non-explosive.
As you approach Youngstown, you'll pass a mile-long factory
complex. This is the Lordstown Assembly Plant, a General Motors facility where
in recent years they have produced the Chevrolet Cavalier and the Pontiac
Sunbird. Forty years ago, the land this facility occupies was
agricultural–mostly cornfields. Since the factory's opening in 1964, over 12
million vehicles have been produced here.
Depending on whether you are following I-80 toward New York or
I-76 to Pittsburgh, you'll pass either to the north or the south of
Youngstown. Youngstown is a city shaped by
population of the community swelled with immigrants who came to work in the
mills, and the furnaces roared 24 hours a day. Back then, the skies around
Youngstown glowed pink at night and during the day the smoke created a sense of perpetual
Today, the air is clean, and most of Youngstown's steel industry is gone. Its aging
mills couldn't compete with foreign steel or that produced by newer domestic
facilities. If you are traveling I-80, you'll pass some remnants of the
factories, particularly as you go through the Mahoning River Valley.
Youngstown has made other
contributions to the American way of life. The Good Humor®
ice cream bar originated in Youngstown, as
did Arby's® Roast Beef.
Also, Harry, Sam, Abe and Jack Warner hailed from Youngstown. The Warners were
of a family of Polish immigrants. They were soap salesmen when they became
enamored of early movie theaters called nickelodeons because of their
admission price: a nickel. They established their own nickelodeon which was the
start for Warner Brothers motion pictures.
This route is available for purchase on CD or cassette tape.
The narration runs for about one hour in 4 segments that take you from
Cleveland's southeast suburbs along I-480. Then, the route follows the Ohio
Turnpike (I-80) to Youngstown. The CDs and cassettes sell for $9.95 each.