Homesteaders would begin their claim by building a small cabin. A small garden was created for the residents to grow food. Settlers then set about clearing land to grow crops, which might include grasses, clovers, timothy, root crops such as potatoes, hops, apples, wheat, and strawberries.
Removing stumps was difficult. Most homesteaders kept a few animals. Barns and outbuildings were built in varying numbers and sizes, depending on the tenacity of the homesteader.
Native tribes of the region, though frustrated by the treaty experience and U.S. land policy, were generally friendly and cooperative, providing help to settlers with transportation and labor.
A rather small proportion of the homesteaders succeeded in proving up, and an even smaller proportion stayed on their land for long afterwards. "Besieged by dense woods to clear, difficult terrain, heavy rainfall that limited crops, "no markets, no roads, no trail," and a diet of "spuds, elk, and sauerkraut," few succeeded as the self-sufficient yeoman farmer of Jeffersonian ideals. Even for those few willing and able to face the hardships of staying on the land, there was the early and abiding presence of the Olympic Forest Reserve," established in 1897. The Olympic Forest Reserve limited settlement by placing the uncertainty of further settlement and development in the face of the settlers. By not knowing what would happen to the region, a psychological burden was imposed and homesteaders were less inclined to invest their lives and efforts on a claim which could prove worthless. Many old claims and homesteads were indeed absorbed by the Olympic National Park when it was established in 1938.