Cleveland is on U.S. Highway 59 forty miles northeast of Houston in northwestern Liberty County. The recorded history of the area began in 1836, when the General Land Office offered land in the county in exchange for military service. In 1854 Father Peter La Cour, who was evidently the first priest resident in the county, built a church and convent near the present townsite. The community formed after 1878, when Charles Lander Cleveland deeded 63.6 acres of land to the Houston, East and West Texas Railway with a request that a station bear his name. Since 1900 Cleveland has served as the junction of this line (now the Southern Pacific) and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (now the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe). The town was not incorporated until 1935. The forests around Cleveland, including Sam Houston National Forest, which is located just to its north, are a resort for many inhabitants of the Houston area, who come to camp, hike, hunt, and fish. Cleveland has several historic sites and public recreational facilities, including two parks. The Austin Memorial Library Center offers a wide range of services to the community, and a Little Theater and annual rodeo provide entertainment. Commercially, Cleveland has been a shipping point for timber, lumber, and lumber byproducts since the 1870s. Oil, gas, cattle, farm products, and sand and gravel are important to the town's economy. The general trend toward urbanization of the entire area is reflected by the fact that in 1965 Liberty County was added to the Houston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Cleveland grew from 1,200 in 1930 to 5,977 in 1980. In the early 1980s an industrial park, new shopping centers, and new businesses were built to meet the growing demand. In 1990 the population was 7,124, and in 2000 it was 7,605.