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
Elementary student on mission to provide Christmas cheer to needy
The 7-year-old West End Elementary student who declined to receive Christmas gifts in favor of collecting donations for the world’s needy last year is giving again.
Counties may see job training payback plan soon
Whether the six counties of northwest Pennsylvania may have to repay the state job training funds remains unknown this point.
Hotel Conneaut operators offer debt relief, crowd-drawing ideas
The operators of the Hotel Conneaut are hoping to get support for a plan they say will address the property tax debt of Conneaut Lake Park and attract more people to the amusement park.
Water Street water main break closes roadway, disrupts businesses
An apparent break involving a 12-inch water main running under Water Street has resulted in the closure of Water between Terrace and North streets until at least Thursday.
Water main break closes Meadville street
Water Street in downtown Meadville has been closed due to an apparent water main break just north of the North Street intersection between Sherry Distributors and the Terrace.
County commissioners to act on no-tax-hike 2014 budget
While some adjustments have been made to Crawford County’s proposed 2014 budget, county property owners still are not facing an increase in the county’s real estate property tax rate for next year.
Friday's Light Up Night Meadville officially kicks off Christmas season
It’s once again time to welcome the holiday season to downtown Meadville with community spirit, excitement and fun.
Judge says county is 'without jurisdiction' in case of name left off ballot
Crawford County President Judge Anthony Vardaro has ruled county court doesn’t have jurisdiction to order a special election for Wayne Township after a township supervisor candidate’s name was left off the November ballot.
Sharply-divided PENNCREST board elects leaders
Although Article 3 of Pennsylvania’s Public School Code specifies that the terms served by school board members expire on the first Monday of December in the final year of the term, PENNCREST School Board’s past president wasn’t quite ready to give up his seat.
Route 86 near the Country Club closed
Route 86 near the Country Club is closed due to a traffic accident, according to emergency radio traffic.
- More Local News Headlines
- Elementary student on mission to provide Christmas cheer to needy