Have you ever thought about the origins of the roadways that you travel every day in your community? Many modern thoroughfares were once important “highways and byways” in days of old.
People who live in the vicinity of Buttermilk Hill and McCune roads in Venango County, or along the “old” and “new” Route 322 through northwest Pennsylvania may not realize that
a major footpath from colonial times passed right through their neighborhoods — the Venango Trail. It ran from the forks of the Ohio River (now Pittsburgh), through Crawford County and all the way to today’s Presque Isle on Lake Erie.
This trail was founded by the Native Americans of western Pennsylvania who used it as the primary route to travel north and south across western Pennsylvania.
After the French invasion of western Pennsylvania in 1753, the section of Venango Trail from Presque Isle to Venango (today’s Franklin) became a military highway to move troops and supplies. After the French abandoned their forts in western Pennsylvania, the British, and later Americans, continued to use the trail for military purposes.
As many people in Crawford County are familiar, a famous traveler journeyed this path more than 250 years ago. George Washington, along with his guide Christopher Gist, traveled the Venango Trail in 1753 to deliver a trespass notice from Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie to the French. In 2003, “Washington’s Trail 1753” signs were posted along today’s roadways of western Pennsylvania where Washing-ton traversed the trail. You can spot several of them along Route 322.
To look at the direction the Venango Trail ran in a modern context, here is the route one would have to follow. From Franklin, the trail ran along the bank of French Creek and modern Route 322. It then followed the road into the village of Sugarcreek. From there, the trail ran close to or followed Buttermilk Hill Road, and after crossing Route 964 above Utica, the trail followed McCune Road until it meets Old Route 322. The trail thus proceeded with this route into modern-day Cochranton. Leaving Cochranton, modern Route 322 closely follows the Venango Trail path.
One of those stops along the trail-way will be the site of a major historical re-enactment this weekend: At Custaloga Town, French and Indian War history buffs will host two days of information, demonstrations, activities and food.
Custaloga Town was one of the main Native American settlements along the trail’s path from Franklin to Meadville. During the French and Indian War, Custaloga was a major chief among the Lenni-Lenape (more popularly known as the Delaware Indians). He kept the wampum for the Delaware nation and was a staunch supporter of the French. Custaloga’s men were oftentimes employed by the French to transport supplies between Fort LeBoeuf (Waterford) and Fort Machault (Franklin).
The French also organized Indian war parties in order to harass the British frontier. Apparently Custaloga’s warriors were very actively involved in these raids since 30 white captives were found at his village at war’s end.
Brown, a resident of Venango County, is a member of the French Creek Living History Association.
- Local News
Woman faces jail time for alleged theft of former employer
A Meadville area woman faces up to seven years in state prison when she is sentenced later this year in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas for stealing from her former employer.
'Prank' kidnapping no laughing matter for Vernon police
A kidnapping report later revealed to be a prank was no laughing matter for Vernon Township police, who were dispatched to a business for the alleged abduction Wednesday.
Landowner to discuss his plan for bridge replacement
A proposed alternative to the Mead Avenue Bridge will be discussed at a public meeting March 25 beginning at 5 p.m. at the Days Inn, 18360 Conneaut Lake Road, Vernon Township.
'Brutal' pothole problem persists as PennDOT, townships work for fixes
Mother Nature is toying with us. Big time.
Autopsy report key to shaping charge in Venango County killing
Authorities are awaiting completion of an autopsy report before determining what degree of homicide a Titusville area woman will face, Shawn White, Venango County’s district attorney, said Thursday.
Commissioners to pay off assisted-living home loan ahead of schedule
A $1.1 million project loan from 1996 used to upgrade the Quality Living Center in Saegertown is being paid off two years ahead of schedule.
Soil testing needed before Crawford County Courthouse expands
A New York state firm has been hired by Crawford County to do soil testing to determine if a proposed expansion of the county courthouse can be done.
Community garden expected to soon bloom in City of Meadville
A moratorium has been declared on enforcement of two words — “agricultural” and “uses” — of Section 1306.17 of the City of Meadville’s zoning code.
The Story Next Door project part of two-day Allegheny College journalism conference
Allegheny College students will team up with professional journalists and other students from around the country to initiate a sunrise to sunset project, a hands-on multimedia experiment documenting the Meadville area, as part of the upcoming two-day journalism conference, The Story Next Door.
Venango County woman charged in fatal shooting
State police have charged a Venango County woman of fatally shooting a man following a domestic dispute on Tuesday.
- More Local News Headlines
- Woman faces jail time for alleged theft of former employer