SHORT STORY - What They Found Here
by Kathleen Winterbottom,
Moses Cleaveland chose a few men to go with him to explore the country to the west. They were to decide upon a place for a new city. These men traveled in a small boat, keeping close to the shore of the lake. They were looking for a river. The Indians had named it the Cuyahoga River because it was so crooked. Have you ever seen the crooked Cuyahoga River? On July 22, 1796, Moses Cleaveland and his men came to the place where the Cuyahoga empties into Lake Erie. They turned their boat into the river and landed on its bank. Can you imagine how happy they were? The long journey was ended!
Do you suppose the surveying party saw what we now call Cleveland? Did they see tall buildings, many people, and wide roads? No, they found a great forest with only Indian trails to guide them.
The land along the river was very swampy. The party had a hard time trying to find a place to land. The boat got stuck in the soft mud and many times it was almost overturned. The men landed on the east bank of the river where they saw a trail leading into the woods.
Moses Cleaveland was the first to reach the top of the bank. The others were close behind. They found themselves in a beautiful forest, a forest of oak, birch, walnut, and sugar maple trees. To the north was beautiful Lake Erie and to the west was the crooked Cuyahoga up which they had come.
In the forest the men saw many wild birds and animals. These birds and animals would supply the settlers with fur and food. They knew the lake, river, and streams were filled with fish. Food would not be hard to get.
After looking the country over very carefully General Cleaveland saw what a wonderful place this would be for a city. He said, "This is the place."
It is fun to try to picture the way this land looked then. Perhaps right where you are living an Indian had his home. Where your school is standing the Indians hunted deer and other wild animals. The Indians paddled their canoes on the lake, river, and streams. Yes, it was a very different place when General Cleaveland landed here.
Most cities and towns just grow. First a few people settle on the land. Then more people come and settle nearby. Soon there are many people and they form a town or city.
Cleveland did not grow this way. Cleveland was a planned city. General Cleaveland and his men made a map to show how they wanted the city laid out. This map was carefully followed. Today downtown Cleveland is much the same as it was planned in 1796.