The Ohio & Erie Canal quickly changed the Cuyahoga Valley from a remote backcountry to an industrial region. When the Akron to Cleveland section of the canal opened in 1827, the valley’s pioneer settlements became boomtowns. Workers originally from Ireland and Germany flooded into Ohio to dig the canals for 30 cents a day. Quarries provided stone for canal locks and new buildings. The falling water of the locks was also used to turn waterwheels. Mills and small factories sprang up nearby, making everything from cheese and flour to bricks and lumber. The canal was a cheap way to ship anything made or grown in the valley to buyers back East or down South.
With industry came workers. Peninsula and Boston became boat building boomtowns. Everett specialized in stables that housed, fed, and cared for mules and horses needed to pull the canal boats along their towpaths. The new families settled into growing Cuyahoga Valley towns with schools, churches, and stores full of goods from New York, Massachusetts, or even Europe. The canal created a more civilized life in the valley. It brought fine china and spices and dependable mail from faraway relatives. The valley’s residents went from mostly independent frontier farmers to townsfolk who lived in wooden homes. Children went to local schools and food could be purchased in stores and markets.