Making a Living

Black and white photo of three people standing behind a hay bailer drawn by three draft horses.

Courtesy / Bath Township Historical Society

Around the world, farmers share a special bond with their land that involves faith and stewardship. Beginning with Indigenous peoples 1,500 years ago, generations of Cuyahoga Valley farmers from diverse backgrounds have raised the crops and livestock necessary for survival.

 
Historic photo of stream train going down railroad tracks alongside a tree lines slow moving river.
River, railroad, and canal between Boston and Peninsula.

NPS Collection

Throughout the last 200 years, both agriculture and the landscape significantly changed as cultural influences brought new ideas and technology to the Cuyahoga Valley. Farming greatly expanded during the Canal Era (1827 - 1850) because this interstate system gave farmers access to new markets. The Ohio & Erie Canal and later the railroads were important forces that helped subsistence farmers play a larger role in the market-driven economy. The canal also influenced the development of farm-related industries, such as cheese factories and grist mills.

While improved transportation helped farmers build up their businesses, the end of the canal marked the end of agricultural dominance in the Cuyahoga Valley. Cleveland and Akron's industrial boom in the early 1900s lured farmers into the cities in search of quicker ways to earn higher wages. Those that kept farming often had to work outside jobs in order to support their families.

After the national park was established in 1974, many of the remaining farmers sold their property to the federal government. This was often an unhappy decision. For some residents, breaking this bond with the land created a sense of loss that has lasted for decades. For others, love for the land has kept them farming, despite hardships and outside pressures.

 
 
 
 
Managing a successful farm involves making daily decisions about what products to grow, how to sell those goods, and how to overcome numerous challenges. Click the links below to learn about how past and present farmers made their living in the Cuyahoga Valley.
 

Last updated: November 9, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville , OH 44141

Phone:

440 717-3890

Contact Us

Stay Connected