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Portage County, Ohio facts for kids

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Portage County
Portage County Courthouse
Portage County Courthouse
Official seal of Portage County
Map of Ohio highlighting Portage County
Location within the U.S. state of Ohio
Map of the United States highlighting Ohio
Ohio's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Ohio
Founded June 7, 1808
Named for the portage between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers
Seat Ravenna
Largest city Kent
 • Total 504 sq mi (1,310 km2)
 • Land 487 sq mi (1,260 km2)
 • Water 17 sq mi (40 km2)  3.3%%
 • Total 161,791
 • Density 321.0/sq mi (123.94/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 13th, 14th, 16th

Portage County is a county located in the U.S. state of Ohio. As of the 2020 census, the population was 161,791. Its county seat is Ravenna. The county was created in 1807 and organized in 1808 and is named for the portage between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers.

Portage County is part of the Akron, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH Combined Statistical Area. Its largest city is Kent.


The name "Portage" comes from an old Native American path called "Portage Path", which ran between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers, where travelers portaged their canoes. The location of the trail today is within the boundaries of neighboring Summit County.

After the discovery of the New World, the land that became Portage County was originally part of the French colony of Canada (New France), which was ceded in 1763 to Great Britain and renamed the Province of Quebec. In the late 18th century the land became part of the Connecticut Western Reserve in the Northwest Territory, then was purchased by the Connecticut Land Company in 1795.

The first European settler in what is now Portage County was Abraham Honey in 1798 in the area now known as Mantua Township, followed by Asa Hall in what is now Atwater Township in April 1799. In June 1799, Benjamin Tappan, Jr. arrived and founded Ravenna, David Daniels came to what is now Palmyra Township, and Ebenezer Sheldon settled in what is now Aurora.

Portage County 1826
1826 map of Portage County with 30 townships

When first settled, the area that presently constitutes Portage County was part of the original Jefferson County, which had been organized in 1797. In 1800, the area was made part of Trumbull County, which followed the boundaries of the Connecticut Western Reserve. In 1802, all of what is now Portage County was organized under the name of Franklin Township with other townships being formed later. On February 10, 1807 the Ohio state legislature passed the act to create Portage County from Trumbull County and it took effect June 7, 1807. Portage County remained attached to Trumbull County until June 8, 1808, when the first elections were held. Initially, the county included a large area of the Western Reserve that encompassed most of present-day Summit County, all of Medina and Huron counties, and parts of Lorain and Ashland counties. There were six organized townships in 1808: Franklin, Deerfield, Aurora, Hiram, Springfield, and Hudson with new townships organized later, reaching a maximum of 30. The present-day boundaries of Portage County were established in 1840 following the 1812 creation of Medina County, a slight boundary adjustment in 1827 with Cuyahoga County, and finally the creation of Summit County in 1840, which took 10 townships from Portage County along with 3 townships from Medina County and two from Stark County.


Towners Woods gazebo
Gazebo at Towner's Woods Park in Franklin Township, part of the county park system

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 504 square miles (1,310 km2), of which 487 square miles (1,260 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (3.3%) is water.

West Branch State Park is a very large state park in central Portage County, consisting of a large green surrounding the Michael J. Kirwan Dam and Reservoir. There are a number of smaller state and local parks.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-76
  • Ohio Turnpike / I-80
  • I-480
  • US 224.svg U.S. Route 224
  • OH-14.svg State Route 14


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 2,995
1820 10,095 237.1%
1830 18,826 86.5%
1840 22,965 22.0%
1850 24,419 6.3%
1860 24,208 −0.9%
1870 24,584 1.6%
1880 27,500 11.9%
1890 27,868 1.3%
1900 29,246 4.9%
1910 30,307 3.6%
1920 36,369 20.0%
1930 42,682 17.4%
1940 46,660 9.3%
1950 63,984 37.1%
1960 91,798 43.5%
1970 125,868 37.1%
1980 135,856 7.9%
1990 142,585 5.0%
2000 152,061 6.6%
2010 161,419 6.2%
2020 161,791 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 161,419 people, 62,222 households, and 40,757 families living in the county. The population density was 331.2 inhabitants per square mile (127.9/km2). There were 67,472 housing units at an average density of 138.4 per square mile (53.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.3% white, 4.1% black or African American, 1.4% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 30.7% were German, 17.1% were Irish, 11.5% were English, 11.0% were Italian, 6.6% were Polish, and 5.7% were American.

Of the 62,222 households, 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.5% were non-families, and 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.96. The median age was 37.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,447 and the median income for a family was $65,306. Males had a median income of $46,014 versus $34,250 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,097. About 8.1% of families and 13.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.


Portage County labeled
Map of Portage County municipal and township labels

Portage County is arranged as a 4x5 grid of 20 rectangles: 18 unincorporated townships containing 9 cities and villages; and two incorporated townships which are fully occupied by one city each.

Under Ohio law, there are two types of incorporated municipal jurisdictions: cities and villages, and any territory within a county that is not part of an incorporated municipality (city or village), is part of a township. Townships have limited local government and services.

The Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, formerly known as the Ravenna Training and Logistics Site and commonly known as the Ravenna Arsenal, occupies much of the land in Charlestown, Paris, and Windham Townships, as well as a small part of Freedom Township.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities




  • Kelso House Museum, Brimfield
  • Kent Historical Society Museum, Kent
  • Kent State University Museum, Kent
  • Kent State School of Art Galleries, Kent
  • Cowrie-Lowrie-Beatty Portage County Historical Society Museum, Ravenna


Portage County is home to eleven public school districts.

District Location Communities served
Aurora City School District Aurora Aurora, small part of Reminderville
Crestwood Local School District Mantua Mantua, Mantua Township, Hiram, most of Hiram Township, most of Shalersville Township
James A Garfield Local School District Garrettsville Garrettsville, Nelson Township, Freedom Township, part of Hiram Township, small part of Charlestown Township
Field Local School District Brimfield Brimfield Township, most of Suffield Township, parts of Tallmadge and Kent which were annexed from Brimfield
Kent City School District Kent Brady Lake, most of Kent, Sugar Bush Knolls, most of Franklin Township, small portion of Streetsboro
Ravenna School District Ravenna Ravenna, most of Ravenna Township, small portion of Shalersville Township
Rootstown Local School District Rootstown Rootstown Township and small portion of Ravenna Township
Southeast Local School District Palmyra Edinburg Township, Palmyra Township, Paris Township, most of Charlestown Township, most of Deerfield Township
Streetsboro City School District Streetsboro most of Streetsboro
Waterloo Local School District Atwater Atwater Township, Randolph Township, small portion of Deerfield Township
Windham Exempted Village School District Windham Windham, Windham Township
Portage County school districts overlay
Map of school districts in Portage County with township and municipal boundaries superimposed.

In addition, there are parts of five neighboring districts which serve portions of Portage County residents.

District Location Communities served in Portage County
Lake Local School District Uniontown small part of Suffield Township
Mogadore Local School District Mogadore Mogadore, small part of Suffield Township
Springfield Local School District Springfield small part of Suffield Township
Stow-Munroe Falls City School District Stow small part of Franklin Township
West Branch Local School District Beloit small part of Deerfield Township

Portage County also has two schools that serve students from multiple districts:

  • Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna, a joint vocational school for students in grades 11 and 12 from 9 of the county's school districts (all but Kent and Aurora) and Mogadore.
  • Bio-Med Science Academy, a year-round public Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEM+M) high school located on the campus of Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown with campuses in Ravenna and Shalersville. The Academy has students enrolled from Portage County and adjacent counties.

Higher education

Portage County is home to three institutions of higher learning:

  • Kent State University, located in Kent; a large regional public research university with around 40,000 students. It serves as the county's largest employer.
  • Hiram College, located in Hiram in northeastern Portage County; a small liberal arts college of around 1,200 students.
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), located in Rootstown, in the south-central part of the county. It is a public medical school and a consortium of Kent State University, the University of Akron, Youngstown State University, and Cleveland State University, with colleges of medicine, pharmacy, and graduate studies.

Notable people

  • Nettie Sanford Chapin (1830–1901), teacher, historian, author, newspaper publisher, suffragist
  • Peter J. Barber (1830-1905), architect, known for his work in Santa Barbara, California
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