• Photo of the Beaver Marsh by Jeffrey Gibson.

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • NPS Seeks Comment on Proposed Regulation for Off-Road Bicycle Trails

    NPShas proposed a special regulation to designate and authorize off-road bicycle use on new trails constructed outside of developed areas in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The public is invited to provide comment until Monday, December 15, 2014. 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 »

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?

Monarch Butterfly - US Fish and Wildlife Service Photo

Early September is the time to watch monarchs feed in Cuyahoga Valley fields rich with goldenrod and New England aster. These places serve as important re-fueling sites for these long distance travelers on their way to oyamel forests near Mexico City more than 2,000 miles away.