The city of Youngstown was founded in 1796 and for over 200 years has been a staple in Valley history.

But even before the mills and before our ancestors, people lived in this area for over 10,000 years, with the Mahoning River helping carve out its landscape.

Over 2,000 cubic feet of water passes by every second, so it may be hard to believe that this mighty river was once barely even a creek.

“Youngstown by the Mahoning River, which was the gateway to the west at the time, was very rich in prehistoric times,” said Rocky Falleti, president of the Mahoning Valley Archaeological Society.

Falleti has been studying and collecting local history since the 1970s. He says people arrived on these lands around 13,000 B.C.

“As the herds of animals were moving — the caribou, the mammoths, the mastodons, whatever were out there at the time — as they would migrate, they would follow them,” Falleti said.

Dr. Matt O’Mansky, associate professor and chair of Youngstown State University’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Gerontology, says some of the first people on this continent settled on these lands.

“Interestingly, one of the earliest sites in all of the Americas, — North, Central, South America — is not far from here outside of Pittsburgh. It’s a rock shelter just like we have at Mill Creek Park. As they dug, it kept getting earlier and earlier and it goes back to easily to 14,000 B.C.,” he said.

Then around 9,000 B.C., people started to settle on this land.

“So they started to settle down right along the Mahoning River at Edinburgh… was one of the first places around,” Falleti said.

You can find artifacts from pottery to arrowheads from every time period.

“They lose their arrowheads like you lose a drill bit. So you find those through fields, especially south of here, especially where there is so much farming,” O’Mansky said.

Evidence of people who lived here before us litters the entire area.

Click here to read about how easy it can be to find artifacts in your backyard.