Yes, in 1969, a mixture of oil, runoff, and waste in the Cuyahoga River caught fire. The river runs through Ohio, near Cleveland. Since then, the water quality of the Cuyahoga has gotten better. However, pollution in this river still exists, partly due to nearby urban areas. The fact that this river caught fire was actually positive for the environmental movement, as it was a sign that pollution could develop into unthinkable problems.
That said, the amount of pollution is the Cuyahoga River nowadays is nothing compared to what it used to be. The river now supports life, has many environmental stewards, and is a rallying point for the environmental movement. The burning river in 1969 was instrumental in getting the 1972 Clean Water Act passed.
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