Cuyahoga Valley

Visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park may not always realize the rich history that surrounds them. Stories of hardship, gain, family, and industry unfolded in the valley as early nineteenth-century settlers began risky farming ventures, establishing farms and businesses in a dense wilderness. Farming in the Cuyahoga Valley increased and expanded during the mid-nineteenth century when the Ohio & Erie Canal connected valley townships to larger cities. The canal's collapse in the early twentieth century, however, signaled the end of the local agricultural boom, and forced residents to seek additional ways to make a living.

This driving tour includes examples of farms, businesses, and natural features that tell the story of nineteenth and twentieth-century valley life. As you explore these locations, imagine the struggles and rewards that residents faced as they lived through dramatic changes in technology, transportation, and the environment.

Hell's Half Acre

Reputed to be a bootlegging tavern where numerous illegal and unsavory transactions occurred in the 1920s, the former inn at Hell's Half Acre now serves as the Canal Visitor Center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Nineteenth-century life…

Tinker's Creek Aqueduct

The mid-nineteenth-century construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal connected smaller townships and farms to cities outside of the Cuyahoga Valley. The project, which lasted from 1825 through 1832, also brought new people into the valley as part of…

Alexander's Grist Mill

The Ohio & Erie Canal, which was completed in 1827, allowed farmers in the Cuyahoga Valley to easily ship grain and other products to the growing markets in Cleveland and Akron. Water spilling over the canal's locks also provided a new…

Jaite Mill

During a trip on the scenic railway, visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will notice a collection of small yellow buildings clustered around the railroad crossing at Vaughn Road in Brecksville. Now the national park's headquarters, the…

Brandywine Falls

Industry in the Cuyahoga Valley developed around natural features in addition to the man-made Ohio & Erie Canal. At sixty feet, Brandywine Falls stands taller than any other waterfall in the national park. Brandywine Falls provided early settlers…

Coonrad Farm

Both historic and modern farmers in the Cuyahoga Valley faced significant daily choices about what to grow or raise on their properties each year. Early nineteenth-century farmers had few livestock, and mostly for personal and family consumption.…

Stanford House

The Cuyahoga Valley's early settlers from New England arrived to find their purchased properties hidden beneath a wilderness of dense forest. By the early 19th century, small hamlets and townships developed where farm families cooperated and…

Everett Road Covered Bridge

Passing by the Everett Road Covered Bridge, you can still hear the shuffle of feet moving to a lively tune. Both young and old come together at the bridge to share in a tradition passed down from the Cuyahoga Valley's first settlers from New…

Jonathan Hale Farm

In the southwestern Cuyahoga Valley sits a tall red brick house on over 140 acres of the Hale Farm and Village. Now a tourist destination and educational trip for school groups, the Hale Farm provides a window into 19th century valley farm life.…

Hale Farm and Village

Walking through the Hale Farm and Village, visitors can hear the clanging of a blacksmith's hammer, feel the heat of a glassblower's kiln, and smell freshly cut timber from a woodworker's shop. The Hale Farm and Village is a living…

Beaver Marsh

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park contains over 1500 wetlands, which remain important sanctuaries of biodiversity and habitats for endangered species. Also important for the local environment, these wetlands store nutrients and reduce erosion and…