(You can visit a map of land migration routes at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~maggieoh/Gwen/migration.htm.)
Index of Articles
From the book: Genealogical Research in Ohio (Page 19)
History of Ohio In Five Volumes
Perhaps no region on the continent was better adapted to human habitation than this Ohio Country, which fact may have had much to do with the keen competition among the native tribes for its possession. The climate was most favorable since man, whether savage, barbarian or civilized, is at his best in a temperate clime. The geography of the region was ideal. There were mountainous sections and level plateaus; broad valleys and extensive plains; rich forest and open prairies, each with its own peculiar products of animal, vegetable and mineral wealth.
Two great drainage systems -- the Ohio River on the south and the Great Lakes on the north -- afforded the best of facilities for travel and transportation. Both systems were extensively used in east and west travel by the Indians, and later by white men; while the numerous rivers tributary thereto -- particularly the Miamis, the Scioto and the Muskingum, flowing into the Ohio; and the Maumee, the Sandusky and the Cuyahoga, discharging their waters into the lake -- the headwaters of which were separated only by short portages, furnished natural highways for travel north and south. Both the Ohio River and the Lakes seem to have been looked upon by the Indian as natural boundary lines, and the territory enclosed between them as a distinct section from that to the north or south.
In connection with the water highways of the country, there should be mentioned the numerous Indian trails which either supplemented or replaced them. These trails, while not natural highways in the sense that the lakes and rivers were, did follow natural lines of travel, and many of them doubtless were as old as the human occupation of the country itself. They not only traversed those districts devoid of waterways and crossed the portages between the headwaters of the navigable streams, but often followed the course of the water routes throughout their entire extent. The reason for this is obvious. The streams were not navigable in seasons of extreme drought, while in winter they often were frozen. Besides, some of the tribes preferred land travel, while all of them found it more convenient at times than that by boat or canoe.
The Indian trails often followed the high ground through which they passed, later becoming what are known as the "ridge roads" of the present time. The importance of the trails as factors in the settlement and development of the State of Ohio cannot be over-estimated. In many instances they determined the location of white settlements, forts and military roads, some of them later becoming public highways. Along these aboriginal trails the native tribes passed to and fro from one location to another, whether engaged in warfare, the chase, trade or migration. Later, together with the navigable streams, they served as the means of entrance to the white traders and settlers who pushed their way into the country north and west of the Ohio River.
Among the most important of these aboriginal highways was the so-called Great Trail, which was the western extension of the great highway between the Indian country around Delaware and Chesapeake bays, and the forks of the Ohio. Passing westward from Pittsburg this trail traversed Northeastern Ohio to Sandusky Bay, from whence it led around the west end of Lake Erie and northward to Detroit. Later it was the important military highway connecting Fort Pitt, Fort Laurens, Fort Sandusky and Fort Detroit.
The most important of the north and south trails of the state was the Scioto trail, between Sandusky Bay on the north and the Ohio River at the mouth of the Scioto on the south. Ascending the Sandusky River from its mouth, crossing the portage and descending the Scioto, it crossed the Ohio and joined the famous "Warriors' Trail" leading far away into the Indian country of the southland. Other important trails connected the Muskingum towns of the Delawares, the Shawnee towns on the Scioto and the Shawnee and Miami towns on the Miamis. Many trails of lesser importance traversed the country in all directions.
Toward the west, the Ohio Country extended till it merged with the Mississippi Valley, while its eastern boundary was the Alleghany Mountains. At the "forks of the Ohio," where Pittsburg now stands, was its eastern gateway, through which the native tribes passed in either direction, and which not only served the european explorer and settler for the same purpose but was the scene of many of the early activities which characterized the struggle between the French and the English for the possession of the rich prize lying to the westward.
In 1797 Ebenezer Zane opened "Zane's Trace" from Wheeling to Limestone (Maysville). It passed through the site of Lancaster (Fairfield County, Ohio), at a fording known as "crossing of the Hockhocking." He located at Lancaster one of the three tracts of land given him by the government for his work performed in opening the "Trace".
Extracts from the book:
Extracts from the book:
Thus, Zane's Trace was blazed through the wilderness during the summers of 1796 and 1797. It provided a much-needed corridor connecting the settlements of western Virginia and Pennsylvania with those of Kentucky. In blazing the Trace, Indian trails were utilized for the greater part of the way from Wheeling to the Scioto River; and Todd's military trace was followed from the Scioto River to the Ohio. Therefore, to lay out the route, all that was necessary was to complete identifying blazes and remove underbrush and other minor obstacles. Despite its primitive nature, mail carriers, emigrants, adventureres, businessmen, and circuit riders, on horseback and by foot, moved along the Trace into and through the rapidly expanding Ohio frontier.