The land that today makes up Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) has been home to humans for thousands of years. American Indians were the first inhabitants. Different American Indian cultures hunted and built villages in the valley during different periods. By the middle 1700s, Europeans were establishing trading posts in the valley and a few decades later settlers from New England started coming to stay. Those frontier communities eventually became towns, their growth helped along by first the canal, then the railroad, and later interstate highways.
The American Indian villages, pioneer settlements, and canal worker communities are long gone. But each wave of residents left their mark. The artifacts, trails, farms, old mills, and canal remains of the Cuyahoga Valley provide clues to how past peoples lived their lives. Visiting the CVNP's many historical sites is like visiting different time periods in the valley. Thanks to the park, those special places are preserved.
Click to learn more about the history and culture of the Cuyahoga Valley.
American Indians forfeited all lands east of the Cuyahoga River when they signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. The result of a decisive loss to General Anthony Wayne at Fallen Timbers, near present day Maumee, Ohio, the treaty opened the Ohio Country to pioneers.
Western Reserve Pioneers
A new kind of people began coming to the Cuyahoga Valley in the late 1700s. Families from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other New England states had begun moving to the Western Reserve, including land around the Cuyahoga River. These New Englanders were not traders or missionaries. They were settlers looking to make a new life in the valley.
Moses and Polly Gleeson
For more of their story, visit Canal Exploration Center.
Last updated: April 28, 2020