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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 York City.

  • During the early sections of this route, you might be surprised at how much forest you travel through, given the proximity of Clevelanda 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 agriculturalmostly 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 steel. The 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 dusk.

  • 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.

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