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Roots Revealed Blog




First People at Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation

Posted: 5/15/2013
Posted By: Karen Lakus


Native Americans occupied the Cuyahoga Valley for thousands of years before the arrival of the first Europeans. Sites dating from the Woodland (1000 B.C. – 1000 A.D.) and Late-prehistoric (1000-1650 A.D.) time periods dot the landscape along the Cuyahoga River. These prehistoric groups did not have any known written records or descendants, so artifacts and features they left behind in the soil help scientists piece together the story of our first people. 


High on the bluffs near CanalWay Center at Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation, ancient people built a set of earthworks which were mapped by Charles Whittlesey around 1840. Whittlesey was a geographer and lawyer living in Cleveland who worked as a topographer for the Geological Survey of Ohio. Although the purpose of the ancient “earth forts” throughout Northeast Ohio remains unknown, Whittlesey’s maps have provided information on their locations for modern archaeologists.

Whittlesey called the hilltop site at this location “Fort #2.” It is not known who built the earthworks or when they were built and they have since been obliterated by advances in transportation and industry. The Ohio and Erie Canal entrance road is called “Whittlesey Way” to recognize the work of Charles Whittlesey and his contributions to our understanding of our local prehistoric cultures.


Karen Lakus, Cultural History Interpreter


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