George Washington’s 1784 Trip to Ohio Country
Starting out in September of 1784, George Washington was to once again make the arduous trip over the Appalachian Mountains to the Ohio country. This time he had two purposes. One was to inspect the lands that he owned in the Ohio country that he had both purchased and been granted for his military service during the French and Indian War. The second purpose, however, was to purpose a dream that Washington had ever since his first trip across the Appalachian Mountains prior to the start of the French and Indian War – namely, to survey a water route to connect the Potomac River to the Ohio River and thus to provide a way to ship agricultural crops and goods from the Ohio country to the eastern seaboard of the colonies. Washington proposed to lay out such a water route by following the Potomac River to its headwaters and then traveling a short distance by land to the Allegheny River. From there, one could once again travel by boat to the Forks of the Ohio, and then on down the Ohio River. All of this Washington had done before by canoe and on foot and horseback. This time, however, it was Washington’s idea to determine where canal locks would have to be constructed around falls such as the Great Falls of the Potomac so as to make it navigable by canal boats or bateaux carrying cargo. In this way, it was Washington’s dream to connect the vast interior of the American continent with the eastern seaboard of America where goods could then be shipped to the different states and to Europe. Given the richness of the soil and the vast lands of the Ohio country and beyond that could be opened up for settlement, Washington envisioned that America could become the great “bread basket” or food producer for much of the world.