• Photo of the Beaver Marsh by Jeffrey Gibson.

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Towpath Trail Closure

    Towpath Trail is closed from Mustill Store to Memorial Parkway for riverbank reinforcement. Detours posted. Closure will last 1 - 4 weeks into August. More »

  • Other Closures

    Valley Bridle Trail south of SR 303, across from golf course, is collapsed by river. Hard closure. Plateau Trail Bridge, north of Valley Picnic Area is closed. No detours. Plateau & Oak Hill trails are open. More »

  • Riverview Road Repaving

    Riverview Rd is being repaved from the Cuyahoga-Summit Cty line to Peninsula through Mon, 9/15. Road is open but there are still delays due to construction. Allow extra time. More »

Changes in Technology

Brecksville depot, 1923.

Brecksville depot, 1923.

NPS Collection

While a love of agriculture has remained constant among valley farmers, farming methods continuously change through time. As technology advanced, farming became more profitable and less labor intensive. Farmers could plow extra fields, sell more products, and have more time for other jobs. With newer tractors and farming equipment, the market economy came to the farm. While families earned more money from their crops and livestock, they needed loans from banks to pay for the new technology. The local farm emerged from isolation as nationwide food and supply networks developed and dictated the choices of many farmers.

Wheat threshing with horse-drawn equipment.

Wheat threshing with horse-drawn farm equipment.

Courtesy/Bath Township Historical Society

Technology Advances
Farming in the Cuyahoga Valley began as early as 800 BC during the Woodland Period. American Indians, part of the Late Prehistoric (ca. AD 900-1650) Whittlesey culture, brought the first true maize farming to the region. They farmed corn, beans, and squash by clearing trees and underbrush, and then burning debris to replenish the soil.

The Cuyahoga Valley's Western Reserve farmers brought farming methods from New England to the frontier. These methods combined earlier European methods, which probably dated back to the Middle Ages, and the agricultural techniques of American Indians on the eastern seaboard. Pioneer farmers made do with a minimum of farm implements, performing much of their work by hand. They sowed seeds by hand, cut hay with a scythe, and cut grain with a cradle or sickle and then bound it by hand.

In the late 1830s and 1840s, Cyrus McCormick and Obed Hussey introduced improved reapers and mowers. In 1837, John Deere invented the first steel plow. It required only one man and a team of horses to operate. Prior to this, farmers used wooden mold-board plows that required three teams of oxen and two men to pull.

Later in the 19th century, with the advent of the railroad and increasing industrialization, farmers developed scientific farming practices, which used knowledge of modern soil and plant science to increase agricultural productivity. With expanding markets in Cleveland and Akron, the availability of new machinery, and potential for increased production through the use of fertilizers, farming became a more lucrative business.

Click the links to the left to learn about how technological developments changed the lives of Cuyahoga Valley residents.

Did You Know?

Historic photo of canal boat on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Lock 27 along the Ohio & Erie Canal became known as Johnnycake Lock after several boats ran aground due to flooding. While stranded, supplies ran low and canal passengers and crew ate only corn meal pancakes, known as "johnnycakes".