Farming in a floodplain requires a certain acceptance of natural forces. The Cuyahoga River and its tributaries normally flood throughout the year, especially during the spring. The effects are not all bad. Stormwater washing into the floodplain deposits sediments that replenish the soil.
Periodically, devastating floods sweep the region and beyond. The most famous is the Great Flood of 1913. It swept away homes, barns, livestock, and more. The Ohio & Erie Canal was so overwhelmed that some structures had to be dynamited to release the water and the canal never recovered.
Click to read a dramatic first-hand account of the 1913 flood. Urvan Murphy and his family survived the 1913 flood, but the rising waters damaged their home and fields. The historic Murphy Farm was located between the Cuyahoga River and the canal, just south of present-day Station Road Bridge Trailhead.
In the 21st century, Cuyahoga Valley farmers continue to deal with high water and crop loss. With increased land development and more numerous severe storms, water now pulses more rapidly into streams that feed the Cuyahoga River, threatening downstream communities. Despite this hardship, farmers find help from their neighbors and work together to rebuild homes and businesses.
In Their Own Words
Click the topics to hear stories about Cuyahoga Valley life.
Click here to read the text file.
Cuyahoga River (1 minute 13 seconds)
Henry Fortlage, who grew up in Independence, talks about the Cuyahoga River and why it is prone to floods.
Flooding and Help from Friends (1 minute 11 seconds)