Portage Paths: The Keys of the Continent by Hulbert, Archer Butler






_With Maps_












The little portage pathways which connected the heads of our rivers and lakes or offered the _voyageur_ a thoroughfare around the cataracts and rapids of our rivers were, as the subtitle of this volume suggests, the "Keys of the Continent" a century or so ago. The forts, chapels, trading stations, treaty houses, council fires, boundary stones, camp grounds, and villages located at these strategic points all prove this. The study of these routes brings one at once face to face with old-time problems from a point of view almost never otherwise gained. The newness and value of reviewing historic movements from the standpoint of highways is strikingly emphasized in the case of portage paths. While studying them, one seems to rise on heights of ground like those these pathways spanned--and from that altitude, gazing backward, to get a better perspective of the military and social movements which made these little roads historic.

The difficulty of treating such a broad subject in a single monograph must be apparent. Portages are found wherever lakes or rivers lie, and our subject is therefore as broad as the continent. It is obvious that in a limited space it is possible to treat only of portages most used and best known--which most influenced our history. These are practically included in the territory lying south of the Great Lakes between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. Historically, too, we are taken back to the early days of our history when America was coextensive with the continent, for the important portages were those binding the St. Lawrence with the rivers of New England, and the tributaries of the Great Lakes with those of the Mississippi.

It has seemed most profitable to divide the subject into two parts: in the first, under the specific title of "Portage Paths" is given a description of these routes, their nature, use, and evolution. The second part is devoted to a "Catalogue of American Portages," and in it are included extracts from the studies of students who have given the subject of portages their attention, showing style of treatment, methods of investigation and research, and results of field-work. Among these Dr. Wm. F. Ganong's _Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick_ and Elbert J. Benton's _The Wabash Trade Route_ are commanding examples of critical, scholarly field-work and specific historical analysis. Professor Justin H. Smith's impressive monograph on _Arnold's Battle with the Wilderness_, and Secretary George A. Baker's _The St. Joseph-Kankakee Portage_ are illustrations of what could and should be done in many score of cases throughout the United States. To Sylvester's _Northern New York_ and Dr. H. C. Taylor's _The Old Portage Road_ the author is likewise indebted. The author has attempted to make good in some degree the astonishing lack of material concerning the famous Oneida Portage in New York, a subject which calls loudly for earnest and minute study--for this portage path at Rome, New York, with the exception of Niagara, was the most important west of the Hudson River. A plea for the study of the subject of portages and the marking of historic sites occupies the concluding pages.

A. B. H.

MARIETTA, OHIO, May 22, 1903.


Portage Paths



There may be no better way to introduce the subject of the famous old portages of America, than to ask the reader to walk, in fancy, along what may be called a "Backbone of America"--that watershed which runs from the North Atlantic seaboard to the valley of the Mississippi River. It will prove a long, rough, circuitous journey, but at the end the traveler will realize the meaning of the word "portage," which in our day has almost been forgotten in common parlance, and will understand what it meant in the long ago, when old men dreamed dreams and young men saw visions which will never be dreamed or seen again in human history. As we start westward from New Brunswick and until we reach the sweeping tides of the Mississippi we shall see, on the right hand and on the left, the gleaming lakes or half-hidden brooks and rivulets which flow northward to the St. Lawrence or the Great Lakes, or southward to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. On the high ground between the heads of these water-courses our path lies.

For the greater portion of our journey we shall find neither road nor pathway; here we shall climb and follow long, ragged mountain crests, well nigh inaccessible, in some spots never trod by human foot save the wandering hunter's; there we shall drop down to a lower level and find that on our watershed run roads, canals, and railways. At many points in our journey we shall find a perfect network of modern routes of travel, converging perhaps on a teeming city which owes its growth and prosperity to its geographical situation at a strategic point on the watershed we are following. And where we find the largest population and the greatest activity today, just there, we may rest assured, human activity was equally noticeable in the old days.

As we pass along we must bear in mind the story of days gone by, as well as the geography which so much influenced it. It is to the earliest days of our country's history that our attention is attracted--to the days when the French came to the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, and sought to know and possess the interior of the continent, to which each shining tributary of the northern water system offered a passage way. Passing the question how and why New France was founded on the St. Lawrence, it is enough for us to know she was there before the seventeenth century dawned, and that her fearless _voyageurs_, undaunted by the rushing tides of that great stream, were pushing on to a conquest of the temperate empire which lay to the southward. Here in treacherous eddies, the foaming rapids, and the mighty current of that river, they were soon taught the woodland art of canoeing, by the most savage of masters; and in canoes the traders, trappers, missionaries, explorers, hunters, and pioneers were soon stemming the current of every stream that flowed from the south.

But these streams found their sources in this highland we are treading. Heedless of the interruption, these daring men pushed their canoes to the uttermost navigable limit, and then shouldered them and crossed the watershed. Once over the "portage," and their canoes safely launched, nothing stood between them and the Atlantic Ocean. It is these portage paths for which we shall look as we proceed westward. As we pass, one by one, these slight roadways across the backbone of the continent, whether they be miles in length or only rods, they must speak to us as almost nothing else can, today, of the thousand dreams of conquest entertained by the first Europeans who traversed them, of the thousand hopes that were rising of a New France richer and more glorious than the old.

Advancing westward from the northern Atlantic we find ourselves at once between the headwaters of the St. John River on the south and sparkling Etchemin on the north, and we cross the slight track which joins these important streams. Not many miles on we find ourselves between the Kennebec on the south and the Chaudière on the north, and cross the pathway between them which has been traversed by tens of thousands until even the passes in the rocks are worn smooth. The valley of the Richelieu heads off the watershed and turns it southwest; we accordingly pass down the Green Mountain range, across the historic path from Otter Creek to the Connecticut, and below Lake George we pass northward across the famous road from the extremity of that lake to the Hudson. Striking northward now we head the Hudson in the Adirondacks and come down upon the strategic watershed between its principal tributary, the Mohawk, and Lake Ontario. The watershed dodges between Wood Creek, which flows northward, and the Mohawk, at Rome, New York, where Fort Stanwix guarded the portage path between these streams. Pressing westward below Seneca Lake and the Genessee, our course takes us north of Lake Chautauqua, where we cross the path over which canoes were borne from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua, and, a few miles westward, we cross the portage path from Lake Erie to Rivière aux Boeufs, a tributary of the Allegheny. Pursuing the height of land westward we skirt the winding valley of the Cuyahoga and at Akron, Ohio, find ourselves crossing the portage between that stream and the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum. As we go on, the valley of the Sandusky turns up southward until we pass between its headwaters and just north of the Olentangy branch of the Scioto.

We face north again and look over the low-lying region of the Black Swamp until the Maumee Valley bars our way and we turn south to cross the historic portage near Fort Wayne, Indiana, which connects the Maumee and the Wabash. By a zig-zag course we approach the basin of Lake Michigan and pass deftly on the height of ground between the St. Joseph flowing northward and the Kankakee flowing southward. Here we cross another famous portage path. Circling the extremity of Lake Michigan by a wide margin, our course leads us to a passage way between the Chicago River and the Illinois. Here we find another path. The Wisconsin River basin turns us northward now, and near Madison, Wisconsin, we run between the head of the Fox and the head of the Wisconsin and cross the famed portage path which connected them. Just beyond lies the Mississippi, and if we should wish to avoid it we would be compelled to bear far north among the Canadian lakes.

Thus from the Atlantic coast we have passed to the Mississippi without crossing one single stream of water; but we have crossed at least twelve famous pathways between streams that flow north and south--routes of travel, which, when studied, give us an insight into the story of days long passed which cannot be gained in any other way. Over these paths pushed the first explorers, the men who, first of Europeans, saw the Ohio and Mississippi. Possessing a better knowledge of their routes and their experiences while voyaging in an unknown land, we realize better the impetuosity of their ambition and the meaning of their discoveries to them. We can almost see them hurrying with uplifted eyes over these little paths, tortured by the luring suggestions of the glimmering waterways in the distance. Whether it is that bravest of brave men, La Salle, crossing from Lake Erie to the Allegheny, or Marquette striding over the little path to the stream which should carry him to the Mississippi, or Céloron bearing the leaden plates which were to claim the Ohio for France up the difficult path from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua, there is no moment in these heroes' lives more interesting than this. These paths crossed the dividing line between what was known and what was unknown. Here on the high ground, with eyes intent upon the vista below, faint hearts were fired to greater exertions, and dreamers heavy under the dead weight of physical exhaustion again grew hopeful at the camping place on the portage path.

Of all whose ambitions led them over these little paths, none appeal more strongly to us than the daring, patient missionaries who here wore out their lives for the Master. Each portage was known to them, better, perhaps, than to any other class of men. Here they encamped on their pilgrimages, though, from being spots of vantage which excited them onward, they were rather the line of demarcation between the near and the distant fields of service, and all of them full of trial and suffering and seeming defeat. Nowhere in the North can the heroism of the Catholic missionaries be more plainly read today in any material objects than in the deep-worn, half-forgotten portage paths which lay along their routes. The nobility of their ambitions, compared with those of explorers, traders, and military and civil officials, has ever been conspicuous, but the full measure of their self-sacrifice cannot be realized until we know better the intense physical suffering they here endured. If the study of portage paths results only in a deeper appreciation of the bravery of these black-robed fathers, it will be worth far more than its cost.

In this connection it is proper to make a restriction; portage paths not only joined the heads of streams flowing in opposite directions, but were also land routes between rivers and lakes, between lakes, and even between rivers running in the same direction. They not only connected the Etchemin and St. John, and the Chaudière and Kennebec, but also the St. John and the Kennebec, and the Kennebec and Penobscot. Many portages joined the lesser lakes; for example, such as Lake Simcoe, lying between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, or Lake Chautauqua lying between Lake Erie and the Allegheny River. The most common form of portage, however, was the pathway on a river's bank around rapids and waterfalls which impeded the _voyageur's_ way. These were very important on such a turbulent river as the St. Lawrence, and on smaller rivers such as the Scioto or Rivière aux Boeufs which were almost dry in certain places in midsummer.[1] In midwinter, with ice running or blocking the course on small streams, these carrying places were as important as in the dry season.

The clearest pictures preserved for us of travelers on these first highways are, happily, to be found in the letters of the Jesuit missionaries who knew them so well, and whose heroism it were a sin to forget. Without attempting to distinguish the various personalities of these brave men, let us take some descriptions of their routes from their own lips.

"These places are called portages, inasmuch as one is compelled to transport on his shoulders all the baggage, and even the boat, in order to go and find some other river, or make one's way around these rapids and Torrents; and it is often necessary to go on for several leagues, loaded down like mules, and climbing mountains and descending into valleys, amid a thousand difficulties and a thousand fears, and among rocks or amid thickets known only to unclean animals."[2]

"We returned by an entirely different road from that which we had followed when going there. We passed almost continually by torrents, by precipices, and by places that were horrible in every way. In less than five days, we made more than thirty-five portages, some of which were a league and a half long. This means that on these occasions one has to carry on his shoulders his canoe and all his baggage, and with so little food that we were constantly hungry, and almost without strength and vigor. But God is good and it is only too great a favor to be allowed to consume our lives and our days in his holy service. Moreover, these fatigues and difficulties--the mere recital whereof would have frightened me--did not injure my health.... I hope next Spring to make the same journey and to push still farther toward the North Sea, to find there new tribes and entire new Nations wherein the light of faith has never yet penetrated."[3]

"On the third day of June, after four Canoes had left us to go and join their families, we made a portage which occupied an entire day spent now in climbing mountains and now in piercing forests. Here we had much difficulty in making our way, for we were all laden as heavily as possible--one carrying the Canoe, another the provisions, and a third what we needed in our commercial transactions. I carried my Chapel and my little store of provisions; there was no one who was not laden and sweating from every pore. We entered, somewhat late, the great river Manikovaganistikov, which the French call rivière Noire ["Black river"], because of its depth. It is quite as broad as the Seine and as swift as the Rhone. The eleven portages which we had to make there and the numerous currents which it was necessary to overcome by dint of paddling gave us abundant exercise."[4]

"But what detracts from this river's [St. Lawrence] utility is the waterfalls and rapids extending nearly forty leagues,--that is from Montreal to the mouth of Lake Ontario,--there being only the two lakes I have mentioned where navigation is easy. In ascending these rapids it is often necessary to alight from the canoe and walk in the river, whose waters are rather low in such places, especially near the banks. The canoe is grasped with the hand and dragged behind, two men usually sufficing for this.... Occasionally one is obliged to run it ashore, and carry it for some time, one man in front and another behind--the first bearing one end of the canoe on his right shoulder, and the second the other end on his left."[5]

"Now when these rapids or torrents are reached, it is necessary to land and carry on the shoulder, through woods or over high and troublesome rocks, all the baggage and the canoes themselves. This is not done without much work; for there are portages of one, two, and three leagues, and for each several trips must be made, no matter how few packages one has.... I kept count of the number of portages, and found that we carried our canoes thirty-five times, and dragged them at least fifty. I sometimes took a hand in helping my Savages; but the bottom of the river is full of stones so sharp that I could not walk long, being barefooted."[6]

"But the mission of the Hurons lasted more than sixteen years, in a country whither one cannot go with other boats than of bark, which carry at the most only two thousand livres of burden, including the passengers--who are frequently obliged to bear on their shoulders, from four to six miles, along with the boat and the provisions, all the furniture for the journey; for there is not, in the space of more than 700 miles, any inn. For this reason, we have passed whole years without receiving so much as one letter, either from Europe or from Kebec, and in a total deprivation of every human assistance, even that most necessary for our mysteries and sacraments themselves,--the country having neither wheat nor wine, which are absolutely indispensable for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."[7]

The following are extracts from the instructions given to missionaries concerning their conduct on the journey from Montreal to the Huron country (1637):

"The Fathers and Brethren whom God shall call to the Holy Mission of the Hurons ought to exercise careful foresight in regard to all the hardships, annoyances, and perils that must be encountered in making this journey.... To conciliate the Savages, you must be careful never to make them wait for you in embarking. You must provide yourself with a tinder box or a burning mirror, or with both, to furnish them fire in the daytime to light their pipes, and in the evening when they have to encamp; these little services win their hearts.... You must try and eat at daybreak unless you can take your meal with you in the canoe; for the day is very long, if you have to pass it without eating. The Barbarians eat only at Sunrise and Sunset, when they are on their journeys. You must be prompt in embarking and disembarking; and tuck up your gowns so that they will not get wet, and so that you will not carry either water or sand into the canoe. To be properly dressed, you must have your feet and legs bare; while crossing the rapids you can wear your shoes, and, in the long portages, even your leggings.... It is not well to ask many questions, nor should you yield to your desire to learn the language and to make observations on the way; this may be carried too far. You must relieve those in your canoe of this annoyance, especially as you cannot profit much by it during the work.... Each one should be provided with half a gross of awls, two or three dozen little knives called jambettes [pocket-knives], a hundred fishhooks, with some beads of plain and colored glass.... Each one will try, at the portages, to carry some little thing, according to his strength; however little one carries, it greatly pleases the Savages, if it be only a kettle.... Be careful not to annoy any one in the canoe with your hat; it would be better to take your nightcap. There is no impropriety among the Savages."[8]

With the foregoing introduction to the subject of portage paths and the nature of the journey over them, their historical importance is next to be noted.

In 1611 Champlain laid the foundation for Montreal, and two years later pushed northwest up the Ottawa River in search of a northwest passageway to the East, but he only reached Isle des Allumettes, the Indian "half-way house" between the St. Lawrence and Lake Huron. Two years later the missionary Le Caron pushed up the same long voyage; following the Ottawa and Mattawan he entered the famous portage to Lake Nipissing which opened the way to "Mer Douce"--Lake Huron. Champlain soon followed Le Caron over the same course and reached Lake Nipissing by the same portage. In his campaign against the Iroquois in central New York, Champlain also found another route to Lake Huron, by way of Lake Ontario, the Trent, and the Lake Simcoe portage. Champlain's unfortunate campaigns against the Iroquois were of far-reaching effect; one of the significant results being to drive the French around to Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior by way of the Lake Nipissing and Lake Simcoe portages.[9] The finding of Lakes Huron and Ontario and the routes to them was the hardy "Champlain's last and greatest achievement."

An interpreter of Champlain's, Etienne Brulé, was the first to push west of "Mer Douce" and bring back descriptions that seem to fit Lake Superior. This was in 1629. Five years later Nicollet drove his canoe through the Straits of Mackinaw, discovered the "Lake of the Illinois"--Lake Michigan--and from Green Bay went up the Fox and crossed the strategic portage to the Wisconsin. He affirmed that if he had paddled three more days he would have reached the ocean!

Though Lake Erie was known to the French as early as 1640 it was not until 1669 that it was explored or even approximately understood. In September of that year the two men who rank next to Champlain as explorers, La Salle and Joliet, met on the portage between Lake Ontario and Grand River, and discussed the question of what the West contained and how to go there. They had heard of a road to a great river and they both were men to do and dare. They parted. Joliet went to Montreal, having converted the two Sulpitian missionaries Galinée and Dollier to his belief that the western road would be found by passing to the western lakes. They therefore left La Salle and went up through the Strait of Detroit, and Galinée made the first map of the Upper Lakes now in existence.

La Salle on the other hand, believing a story told him by the Senecas, held that the road sought lay to the southwest, and it is practically agreed today that he passed from near Grand River across Lake Erie southward, and entered the stream which was later known as the Ohio, and passed down this waterway perhaps to the present site of Louisville, Kentucky. If modern scholarship in this case is correct, La Salle was the discoverer of the sweeping Ohio, having come to it over the Lake Erie-Rivière aux Boeufs portage, or the Lake Erie-Chautauqua portage. There is little reason to believe he ascended the Cuyahoga and descended the Tuscarawas and Muskingum as has been feebly asserted. The Ohio, if it was at this time actually discovered by La Salle, remained almost unknown for nearly a century.

In 1672 Frontenac detailed Joliet to make the discovery of the Mississippi and the adventurer went westward to Mackinaw where he met Marquette. The two went down Green Bay, up the Fox, and across the portage to the Wisconsin; on June 17, 1673, they entered the Mississippi River. Returning, they ascended the Illinois and (probably) the Kankakee; crossing the portage to the St. Joseph they were again afloat on Lake Michigan.

The indomitable La Salle built a vessel of sixty tons on Lake Erie in 1679--the "Griffin," first craft of her kind "that ever sailed our inland seas above Lake Ontario." In her La Salle was to sail to near the Mississippi; part of this ship's cargo comprised anchors and tackling for a boat in which the explorer would descend the Mississippi and reach the West Indies. The "Griffin" was lost, but her builder pushed on undismayed to the valley of the Illinois River. Late in 1679 he built Fort Miamis at the mouth of the St. Joseph, and in December he passed up that river and over the portage to the Kankakee which Joliet and Marquette had traversed six years before. "Passing places soon to become memorable in western annals ... he finally stopped at a point just below the [Peoria] lake and began a fortification. He gave to this fort a name that, better than anything else, marks the desperate condition of his affairs. Hitherto he had refused to believe that the "Griffin" was lost--the vessel that he had strained his resources to build, and freighted with his fortunes.... But as hope of her safety grew faint, he named his fort _Crèvecoeur_--'Broken Heart.'"[10]

Leaving here his thirty men under Tonty to build a new boat, and sending Hennepin to the Upper Mississippi, the indomitable hero set out for Canada to secure additional material for his new boat. Ascending the Kankakee he crossed the portage to the western extremity of Lake Erie and passed on through the lakes to Niagara.

Fort Crèvecoeur was plundered and deserted, but La Salle, in the winter of 1681-82 was again dragging his sledges over the portage to the Illinois on his way to the great river which he, first of Europeans, should fully traverse, "but which fate seemed to have decreed that he should never reach." On the ninth of the following April the brave man stood at last at its mouth, and beside a column bearing the arms of France, a cross and a leaden plate claiming all the territory from which those waters came, he took possession of the richest four million square miles of earth for Louis XIV. "That the Mississippi Valley was laid open to the eyes of the world by a _voyageur_ who came overland from Canada, and not by a _voyageur_ who ploughed through the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico from Spain, is a fact of far-reaching import. The first Louisiana was the whole valley; this and the Lake-St. Lawrence Basin made up the second New France ... the two blended and supplemented each other geographically...."[11] The second New France was united to Louisiana by hinges; these hinges were the portage paths which joined them.

The importance of these routes of travel did not by any means pass when once the explorers and missionaries had hurried over them and brought back news of the lands to which they led. The economic history of these routes is both interesting and important, and should be considered, perhaps, before reviewing their military significance.

As we have had occasion to notice, straits and portages were famous meeting places. La Salle and Joliet met between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario; Joliet and Marquette met at Mackinaw. All routes converged on these narrow land and water courses, while on the broad lakes sojourners passed each other at short distances unwittingly. For in the old days of canoes the coming and going routes varied with a thousand circumstances. Of course the traveler's general rule was to reach quickest waters flowing toward his destination. If he was making for the mouth of the Mississippi from Montreal his best route would be to turn south from Lake Ontario to the first easterly head of the Allegheny River, in preference to pushing further west to the head of any of the other tributaries of the Mississippi. Following the same rule, the route from Quebec to the Kennebec Valley was by way of Moosehead Lake; the return route was by way of the Dead River. A person returning from the "Falls of the Ohio" (Louisville, Kentucky) to Canada would, other things being equal, make for the nearest head of a stream flowing into Lake Erie.

In the case of the Great Lakes, winds and changing water-level soon became understood and governed travel. Parties journeying from Mackinaw to Illinois or the Mississippi would hold to the western coast of Lake Michigan, for here they were favored by the winds, and proceeded southward by the Fox-Wisconsin portage or the Chicago-Illinois portage. In returning they would, under ordinary circumstances, choose the Kankakee-St. Joseph portage which would obviate the necessity of stemming the Illinois or Wisconsin and crossing Lake Michigan. The more direct route to the head of the Maumee was not discovered or appreciated until later. Thus traffic, on the lakes at least, was not on the bee line that it is today, and thus it was that portage paths and straits were famous meeting-places and camping spots.[12] Straits, in many cases, may be classed with portages; often a portage was necessary only in one direction. On the rivers the same portages were usually the routes of parties ascending and descending, but on such a stream as the St. Lawrence they were frequently different; descending _voyageurs_ "shot" many rapids about which it was necessary to make a portage when ascending.

As a meeting place the portage must have been anticipated with an interest inconceivable to us who know comparatively nothing of woodland journeying. Eager eyes were often strained to catch first sight across the water of the opening where the portage path entered the woods. And when this opening was lost to the sight of the departing traveler, the last hope of meeting friends had vanished. What this meant in a day when friends were few and far to seek and enemies quite the reverse, it would be difficult even to hint. Even in the good old colonial days in the heart of New England, friends met at the tavern, when a neighbor was to make a little journey on horseback, to drink his health. Pioneers moving from New York City to what is now Utica spent an afternoon previous to starting in prayer with clergymen.[13] What, then, did partings and meetings mean in the earliest days on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence--when every rapid was a danger and every wood concealed an enemy?[14] Letters were sometimes left hanging conspicuously on trees at portages.

The social nature of the portage camping ground is illustrated by the meetings--friendly and otherwise--between the Indian retinues of the many travelers who encamped here. When Céloron journeyed from Quebec to the Ohio Valley with his leaden plates, he paused at one of the portages to allow his Indian allies to jollify with certain comrades whom they met here.[15] There are cases where such meetings resulted more seriously than mere drunken sprees.[16]

The meeting-place was also the famous camping ground. To reach the portage path the tired paddler bent every energy as the red sun lay on the horizon. Two landings were thus saved. Here the ground around either end of the path had been cleared and trodden hard by a thousand campers, and if wood was scarce in the immediate locality there was abundance at no great distance. No one familiar with camping need be told the advantages, natural and artificial, to be found on an old camping ground.

But here it should be noted that the shortest portage between any two bodies of water was rather an arbitrary line, at least theoretically so. It was chosen as a good site, not for staying, but for passing. Usually it traversed some sort of watershed, more or less distinct; on either side low ground, marshes, and swamps were not uncommon. In many instances the length of the portage path varied inversely with the stage of the water. Some portages were a mile long in wet seasons and ten miles long in dry. Where this was true the country through which the path ran was not altogether suitable for camps nor for villages, which the camps on important portages often became. Often, however, the nature of the country was favorable for habitation, and at many portages the camps became permanent. At such points Indian villages were sometimes found; but as a rule portages were not largely inhabited unless they were defended, and that was not until the era of military occupation.

The portages were frequently used as burying grounds by the Indians, and beside the little paths around the rapids of the river lies the dust of hundreds swept away to their death by the boiling waters. The portages were not infrequently on high, dry ground, favorable for interment.

Here, too, on the portages the toiling missionaries were wont to pause and erect their crosses and altars. In the long journeys back and forth from Quebec to the land of the Hurons, for instance, the portage paths of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence became familiar ground; where one had raised an altar another would be glad to pray. There were silent, holy places on these little roads by which we run noisily today--we who know little of the suffering, the devotion, and the piety of those who first walked and worshiped here.

The missionaries called the Indian trails "Roads of Iron" to suggest the fatigue and suffering endured in their rough journeys. If the ordinary trail was a Road of Iron, what of the portage path--which so often led over cliffs and mountain spurs in going around a waterfall or rapid? But these were not the most difficult portages. There were many carrying places which, uniting heads of streams or lakes, ran over high mountains, through the most impenetrable fastnesses--paths fit only for mountain goats. Yet up these rough steeps the missionaries of the Cross, soldiers, and traders forced their way, slipping, sliding, seizing now and again at any object which would offer assistance. Many of these climbs would tax a person free of baggage in this day of cleared fields and hills; fancy the toil of the old-time _voyageurs_ weighed down by canoes, provisions, and baggage, assailed by the clouds of insects which greeted a traveler in the old forests, and perhaps enduring fears of unseen enemies and unknown dangers.

Then there was the stifling heat of the primeval forests. Our present day notion of forests is diametrically opposed to old-time experience. To us, the forest is a popular symbol of restful coolness; formerly they were exhausting furnaces in the hot season, where horses fell headlong in their tracks and men fainted from fatigue. We wonder sometimes that pioneer armies frequently accomplished only ten or twelve miles a day, sometimes less. But these marches were mostly made in the months of October and November--the dryest months of the year in the Central West--and the stifling heat of the becalmed forest easily explains both slowness and wearing fatigue. It was the heat that all leaders of pioneer armies feared; for heat meant thirst and at this season of the year the ground was very dry. Many a crazed trooper has thrown himself into the first marsh or swamp encountered and has drunk his fill of water as deadly as any bullet.

All this applies with special force to portages, as all know who have essayed mountain climbing in the stifling heat of a windless day. All that marching troops have endured, the brave missionaries and those who came after them suffered on the carrying place with the additional hardship, often, of climbing upward in the heat rather than marching on level ground. When attempting to gain some idea of the physical effort of old-time traveling, the cost of crossing a difficult portage must be considered as the most expensive in time and strength. The story of Céloron's climb up from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua, Hamilton's struggle through the beaver dams and shoals of Petite Rivière on the Maumee-Wabash portage route, Arnold's desperate invasion of Canada over "The Terrible Carrying Place" on the Kennebec-Chaudière route, and the history of the difficulties of the Oneida portage at Rome, New York, present to us pictures of the portages of America that can never fade from our eyes.

At the ends of many of the portage paths were to be found busy out-door work-shops in the old days of pirogues and canoes. The trees nearby and far away stood stark and white against the forest green, having lost their coats of bark; many were fallen, and others were tottering. Here and there were scattered the refuse pieces of bark and wood. The ends of portage paths were famous carpenter shops.[17] There were humble libraries here, too. It was while wintering on the Chicago portage that Marquette wrote memoirs of his voyages.

In some instances, too, peculiar relics of the old life in the heyday of the canoe have come down to us. The end of the portage path, besides being a camping spot, was the provisioning place. Here food was to be made or to be secured and properly seasoned and packed. At the old French portages stone ovens were erected, in which quantities of bread might be baked before starting on a journey. At either end of the Chautauqua portage between Lake Erie and Lake Chautauqua such little monuments have been discovered. In each case the baking place was a circular piece of masonry of stone laid in strong mortar, three feet in height and three or four feet in diameter.[18]

The portages between many waters crossed important transverse watersheds along which coursed the great landward routes of primeval America. Here at the junction of the greater and lesser paths were wide, open spaces where many a camp has been raised and struck, where assemblies innumerable have been harangued, where a thousand ambuscades have been laid and sprung.

Portage paths crossed the watersheds which were frequently boundary lines. They also connected river valleys which came to be boundary lines. Consequently these routes of travel became themselves, in several instances, important boundaries. This is illustrated by the line decided upon at the Fort Stanwix Treaty; in several instances the territory of the United States has been bounded by a little portage path--such as that between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers in Ohio--which is now quite forgotten. In this instance the little path is still to be identified from the fact that it was a boundary line for such a length of time that the lands on the eastern and western sides were surveyed by different systems. The "Great Carrying Place" between the Hudson and Lake George was one of the boundaries of the first grant of land made by the Mohawks at Saratoga. At the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, 1785, the western boundary line of the United States included the courses of two portage paths.

As in Maine, of which subsequent mention is to be made, so throughout the continent, portage paths were commonly named from the destinations to which they led; thus they had two names, as is true of highways in general. In certain instances, as in the case of the "Oneida Carrying-place" well-known portages had one general name. To the portages about the rapids on such rivers as the St. Lawrence and Ottawa, descriptive names were given by the French. One was called "Portage de l'Épine," another "Portage des Roses"--suggestive of the fragrant wild rose which overhung the path to the annoyance of the traveler in spite of its perfume. Another path was known as "Portage Talon." Perhaps the most fanciful name recorded is "Portage de la Musique"--where the river's tide boiled noisily over the rocks and reefs, forever chanting the same song. Other names were "Portage des Chats," "Portage de Joachin," "Portage de la Roche fendue," "Portage des Chenes," "Portage des Galots." One path, at least, bore the noble title "Portage d' Récollets."[19]

In the Post Office Directory twelve states are today represented by an office bearing the name Portage or Portageville.



From every point of view the portages of America, considered historically, were most important, because by reason of their strategic position they were coigns of vantage for military operations.

Picture the continent at the opening of the culminating phases of the Old French War in 1740-1760. For nearly two centuries military and civil officials, missionaries and traders had been passing to and fro on the Ottawa, St. Lawrence, and Richelieu, through Canada, Illinois, and Louisiana, erecting forts and establishing chapels and trading stations. Little by little the English settlements had crept back into the interior. Ten score of portage paths had been traversed; forts and blockhouses had been built, captured, burned, and rebuilt. Flying parties of French had swooped down into New York, and English and Dutch had chased them back. Both sides had become more and more acquainted with the geography of the continent, and now, when war was about to begin in earnest, both antagonists leaped forward quickly to seize for once and all the vital spots in the "communications" in the neutral ground between them, where the vanguards had been bickering and fighting for at least a century.

The Richelieu River, Lake Champlain, and the Hudson had offered the founders of Quebec and Montreal the most direct course to the New England settlements. They had learned it well in their campaigns against the Iroquois. The keys of this route were the portage paths between the St. Lawrence and the Richelieu in the north; and the portages between Lakes Champlain and George, and Lake George and the Hudson River in the south. As early as 1664 Jacques de Chambly erected a fort at the foot of the rapids, at Chambly on the Richelieu, at the end of the thirteen-mile portage from La Prarie three miles above Montreal on the St. Lawrence. Two other forts, Fort St. Louis and Fort Sainte Terese, also guarded the Richelieu River; and at its head, at the foot of Lake Champlain, stood Fort Richelieu.

Later a portage path fifteen miles in length was built from La Prarie (Laprairie) to Fort John (St. Johns), below the "Island of St. Therese." Ascending Lake Champlain the French quickly perceived the strategic positions of Crown Point and "Carillon"--at the end of the portage from Lake George--where they erected Fort Crown Point in 1727, and Fort Frederick (Ticonderoga) in 1731.

The English on the other hand ascended the Hudson from Albany, and built Fort Ingoldesby at Stillwater in 1709, and Fort Nicholson at Fort Edward in the same year. At the Wood Creek end of the portage another fort was built first named Fort Schuyler, later named Fort Anne. Fort Edward and Fort William Henry were built in 1755.

This chain of forts from Albany to Montreal, guarding the important passageways on land and water, marks the line of what was known as "the Grand Pass from New York to Montreal." The last struggle for this line of communication, Johnson's rebuke to the advancing Dieskau, Abercrombie's stroke at Fort Ticonderoga, the brilliant Montcalm's capture of Fort William Henry, and, finally, the wresting of the Champlain Valley from the French by the hitherto defeated English, forms a unique romance which finds its key of action at the portage paths which united the Hudson, Lake George, and Lake Champlain.

There were other routes into New England, known of old, on which the French had spread terror throughout the North Atlantic slope. They came up the Chaudière and down the Kennebec into Massachusetts' "Province of Main." Early in the French and Indian wars Massachusetts began another series of campaigns, to secure again and once for all the Kennebec Valley, building Forts Halifax (1754) and Western (1752) at the head of navigation. At the northern end of the portage between the Kennebec and "Rivière Puante," on the Morris map of 1749, here presented, we find the Indian village Wanaucok still described as a nest of "Indians in the French interest." These allies of the French around the highland portages explain the need of English forts on the Kennebec. The forts of the Connecticut River were largely necessitated by the routes of travel between the heads of its tributaries and the "Rivière S^t. Francis" and "Otter River." On the Morris map we read "Indians of S^t. Francis in league with the French." The mouth of Otter Creek was near Fort Ticonderoga, and it offered, with a portage to the Connecticut, another route of French aggression. "From this Fort the French make their excursions," reads the interesting Morris map, "and have this war [1745 _seq._] burnt and destroy'd two Forts (Saratoga and Fort Massachusets) and broke up upwards of 30 Settlements."

[Illustration: THE MORRIS MAP OF 1749

[_Showing important portages between the St. Lawrence and New England rivers_] (_From the original in the British Museum_)]

The Hudson-Lake George portage marked the most important course from Canada to New York, but there was another route which was fought for earnestly. The French could ascend the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and gain access to the entire rear of New York, and by a dozen minor waterways the Hudson again could be reached. The St. Lawrence had long been an avenue of French exploration and missionary activity. "The route thither (from Quebec up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe to Georgian Bay to the land of the Hurons) is very easy, there being only two waterfalls where it is necessary to land and make a portage--a short one at that; and there it would be easy to construct a small redoubt for the purpose of maintaining free communication and of making ourselves masters of this great lake."[20] Thus the Jesuits "had anticipated by twenty years Frontenac's plan of building a fort for the control of Lake Ontario."[21] Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Canada, 1673) guarded the French end of Lake Ontario, while the English ascended the Mohawk and descended the "Onnondaga" (Oswego) to its mouth (Oswego, New York) where they erected Fort Oswego in 1722, which Montcalm captured in 1757.

To reach the mouth of the Onondaga, the English crossed the already well-worn path, the "Oneida Portage" a mile in length, between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. The strategic position of this path is not shown more clearly than by the number and importance of the military works erected there, Forts Williams (1732), Bull (1737), Newport and famed Stanwix (1758). Throughout the old French War this strip of ground was the scene of bloody battles, massacres, and sieges; and its detailed story--a fascinating one--should be written immediately. The Mohawk end of the portage path forms the main avenue of Rome, New York, and at the center of the little city the site of Fort Stanwix, "a fort which never surrendered," is appropriately marked. It is the boast of the Romans that from this site the stars and stripes were "first unfurled in battle" August 3, 1777. The flag was made from an officer's blue camlet cloak and the red petticoat of a soldier's wife. The white stars and stripes were cut from ammunition bags. The news that Congress, on June 14, had adopted the flag had just reached the inland portage fortress by a batteau from down the Mohawk.

The granting of the vast area of land on the Ohio River by the King of England to the Ohio Land Company in 1749 brought home to the French the realization that the West was disputed territory, and Governor Galissonière immediately dispatched Céloron de Bienville with a band of two hundred and seventy men to reënforce the French claim to the Ohio Valley. It is an ancient French custom to bury leaden plates at the mouths of rivers as a sign of possession, and Céloron bore a supply of such memorials to bury at the mouths of rivers emptying into the Ohio. Ascending the St. Lawrence the party crossed Lake Ontario to the Niagara River. This strategic portage path around Niagara Falls, which joined Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, used from time immemorial, became important to the French when they secured the mastery of Lake Ontario after the erection of Fort Frontenac. Four years after the English came to Oswego the French erected the first permanent Fort Niagara here in 1726, absolutely controlling all intercourse with the West by way of the Great Lakes. It was the key of the lake system, and the numerous campaigns of the English projected against Fort Niagara until its capture in 1759 are evidence of its strategic position and the importance of the little worn road it guarded.

Once beyond the Niagara portage Céloron's attention was turned to the rival routes from Lake Erie to La Belle Rivière. There were at least five passageways well-known to the Indians. Of these the French knew very little, for, having found the Mississippi, they had been less interested in this branch of it. But now that the English were claiming and even settling the land along its half-known shores it was time they were enforcing their claims. So Céloron made for the first portage southward in order to strike the Ohio on its headwaters. This was the Chautauqua Lake portage from Chautauqua Creek--which the French knew as "Rivière aux Pommes"--six miles by land from the present Barcelona, New York, to Lake Chautauqua. From the seventeenth to the twenty-second of July was spent in making the difficult march over what has long been known as the "Old Portage Road." Bonnécamps, who accompanied Céloron, wrote: "The road is passably good. The wood through which it is cut resembles our forests in France."[22]

Céloron went his way, having given great prominence to the Chautauqua portage, indirectly suggesting that it was the most convenient pass from Lake Erie into the disputed Ohio Valley. It remained for another to mark a more practicable course.

Céloron's report to his governor was thoroughly alarming, and a French force under M. Marin was sent from Montreal in 1752 to fortify the route to the Ohio River and to erect forts to hold that river itself.

After looking over the formidable Chautauqua route, Marin moved along the shore of Lake Erie to "Presque Isle" (Erie, Pennsylvania), where the French had made a settlement as early as 1735. Marin chose to make this twenty-mile portage from Presque Isle to "Rivière aux Boeufs" the armed route of French aggression into the Ohio Valley, in preference to the shorter but more tedious and more uncertain Chautauqua pass. At the northern end of the portage he built Fort Presque Isle and at its southern extremity Fort Le Boeuf.[23] The arrival of the French upon the headwaters of the Allegheny will forever be remembered by the new and significant name Washington now gave Rivière aux Boeufs--which the stream still bears--French Creek. Marin, who hurried on down the Allegheny building Forts Machault (Venango) at the junction of Rivière aux Boeufs and the Allegheny, and Duquesne at the junction of Allegheny and Monongahela, should have named the Youghiogheny "English Creek." When once on the way, the time taken by the French and English to reach the key position of the West--Pittsburg--varied inversely as the length of the portages they had to traverse. It will be remembered that Washington in his first campaign of 1754 explored carefully the Youghiogheny River in the hope that the road he had just opened from the Potomac at Cumberland, Maryland to the "Great Crossings" (Smithfield, Pennsylvania) might after all be a portage path between Atlantic waters and the Mississippi system. He found the Youghiogheny useless.[24] The English route to the Ohio was practically an all-land route; Braddock received a little help from the Potomac but did not even attempt to use any western river, nor did Forbes in 1758 or Bouquet in 1763. The Monongahela, downward from Redstone Old Fort (Brownsville, Pennsylvania), at the end of Burd's road, began to be used in the Revolutionary period, and in pioneer days was a famous point of embarcation for western travelers.

On the other hand, the French portage at Presque Isle was the key to their position in the Ohio Valley, for over it came every ounce of ammunition and stores for Fort Duquesne. It was Braddock's purpose in 1755 to ascend the Allegheny after the capture of Fort Duquesne, raze the forts that guarded this portage path, and then meet Governor Shirley who was marching upon Niagara.[25] With Fort Duquesne captured, Forts Le Boeuf and Presque Isle razed, and Fort Niagara besieged, the French would have had as little hope of holding the Ohio Valley as the Shenandoah. Nothing could show more plainly the signification of these fortified portages than the campaigns directed against them.

Further west, the Maumee Valley was of early importance to the French because of the two portages which gave them access to the Miami River on the south and the Wabash on the southwest. The use to explorers of the latter portage has been mentioned. Here, near the present site of Maumee City, the first settlement of whites in the limits of the state of Ohio was made about 1679. The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, marks the Maumee terminus of the important portage to the Wabash River--the modern name carrying the significance of fortification which we are emphasizing. It is to be deplored that the name Fort Stanwix, rather than Rome, is not retained for the city at the Mohawk terminus of the Oneida Portage in New York. Here the French built forts in 1686 and 1749, the latter being surrendered in 1760. Here General Anthony Wayne built a fortress in 1794 which controlled all traffic over the old pathway as had its predecessors.

Passing further west, two forts, at least, guarded well-known portages: Fort St. Joseph's (1712), located a little below South Bend, Indiana, guarding the Kankakee-St. Joseph portage; and Fort Winnebago (1829) guarding the Fox-Wisconsin portage. The post Ouiatanon founded on the Wabash in 1720 was the first military establishment within what is now the state of Indiana. It was located eighteen miles (by the river) below the mouth of the Tippecanoe and near the city of Lafayette. Many writers have located this historic site incorrectly--a mistake it is impossible to make when the actual meaning of the post is understood. It guarded the key of the upper Wabash, for this point "was the head of navigation for pirogues and large canoes, and consequently there was a transfer at this place of all merchandize that passed over the Wabash."[26]

Coming down to the Revolutionary period, the battles fought upon these portages and the forts that were built show that these historic paths had lost little of their significance. All the way across the continent from the portage from the Kennebec to Quebec, over which Arnold led his army, to Fallen Timbers on the Maumee, near which Wayne built Fort Wayne, a significant portion of the struggle for a free America took place on portage paths. As in the French War, so in this later struggle, the paths between Lake Champlain and the Hudson and between the Mohawk and Lake Oneida were all-important passageways. Burgoyne was defeated not far from the spot where the French Dieskau was repulsed, and on the Oneida carrying-place, as has been said, the first United States flag was unfurled in battle in 1777. In the West, of course, Niagara never lost its importance, but the remainder of the portages had now lost something of their military significance, as the Revolution in the West was a series of raids and counter-raids on the settlements of the whites in Virginia and Kentucky, and upon the Indians in the valleys of the Muskingum, Scioto, Sandusky, Maumee, and Wabash. Cross-country land routes were well-worn at this date and few military movements were made which involved portages; such were Hamilton's capture of Vincennes by way of the Maumee and the Wabash, and Burd's keel-boat invasion up the Licking River into Kentucky. Savage strokes like those of Robertson and Sevier, Clark at Vincennes, McIntosh, Lewis, Brodhead, Bowman, Crawford, Harmar, St. Clair, and Wayne were distinctively land campaigns.

Yet in these, too, the value of the portage routes is most clearly seen, as for instance during the conquest of the northwestern Indians by General Anthony Wayne in 1793-94. The permanent headquarters of Wayne were at Fort Washington (Cincinnati), and temporary headquarters were at Fort Greenville (Greenville, O.) and Fort Defiance (Defiance, O.) The conquest was directed northward up the Great Miami Valley to the heads of the Wabash and Maumee. It was directed against the Indian villages, as was true of Harmar's and St. Clair's campaigns before it; and these villages, like so many others, were located in part at the portages between the Miami, Auglaize, St. Mary, and Wabash. At these places Wayne struck swiftly--building Forts Greenville, Recovery, Adams, and a fort on the headwaters of the Auglaize, the name of which is not known. From these points he made his heroic campaign of 1794 in the valleys of the Maumee, Auglaize and St. Mary. But with the successful prosecution of this campaign General Wayne's work was not done. The country conquered must be held--the crops destroyed must not be resown--the villages destroyed must not be rebuilt. All this was as important a feat as the victory at Fallen Timber, and much more difficult.

And so, in the months succeeding his victory, Wayne did as valuable work for his country as at any time, and one of the most important of his plans was a movement which looked toward holding the northern portages from the Miami River to the St. Mary and Auglaize. In a letter to the Secretary of War, dated October 17, 1794, at the Miami villages, Wayne observes: "The posts in contemplation at Chillicothe, or Picque town, on the Miami of the Ohio, at Lormie's stores, on the north branch, and at the old Tawa town, will reduce the land carriage of dead or heavy articles, at proper seasons, viz: late in the fall, and early in the spring, to thirty-five miles, and in times of freshets, to _twenty_ in place of 175, by the most direct road to Grand Glaize, and 150 to the Miami villages, from fort Washington, on the present route, which will eventually be abandoned, as the one now mentioned will be found the most economical, and surest mode of transport, in time of war, and decidedly so in time of peace."[27]

From Greenville on the twelfth of November he wrote again:

"As soon as circumstances will admit, the posts contemplated at Picque town, Lormie's stores, and at the old Tawa towns, at the head of navigation, on Au Glaize river, will be established for the reception, and as the deposites, for stores and supplies, by water carriage, which is now determined to be perfectly practicable, in proper season; I am, therefore, decidedly of opinion, that _this_ route ought to be totally abandoned, and _that_ adopted, as the most economical, sure, and certain mode of supplying those important posts, at Grand Glaize and the Miami villages, and to facilitate an effective operation towards the _Detroit_ and Sandusky, should that measure eventually be found necessary; add to this, that it would afford a much better chain for the general protection of the frontiers, which, with a block house at the landing place, on the _Wabash_, eight miles southwest of the post at the Miami villages, [southern end of the Maumee-Wabash portage path on Little River] would give us possession of all the portages between the heads of the navigable waters of the Gulfs of Mexico and St. Lawrence, and serve as a barrier between the different tribes of Indians...."[28] In the treaty of Greenville, signed by the confederated nations and the United States authorities, the reserved tracts indicate the line of policy previously suggested by General Wayne, and the following section emphasizes the strategic meaning of the portages of the interior of the West: "And the said Indian tribes will allow to the people of the United States, a free passage by land and by water, as one and the other shall be found convenient, through their country, along the chain of posts hereinbefore mentioned; that is to say, from the commencement of the portage aforesaid, at or near Loramie's store, thence, along said portage to the St. Mary's, and down the same to fort Wayne, and then down the Miami to lake Erie; again, from the commencement of the portage at or near Loramie's store, along the portage; from thence to the river Auglaize, and down the same to its junction with the Miami at fort Defiance; again, from the commencement of the portage aforesaid, to Sandusky river and down the same to Sandusky bay and lake Erie, and from Sandusky to the post which shall be taken at or near the foot of the rapids of the Miami of the lake; and from thence to Detroit. Again, from the mouth of Chicago, to the commencement of the portage between that river and the Illinois, and down the Illinois river to the Mississippi; also, from fort Wayne, along the portage foresaid, which leads to the Wabash and then down the Wabash to the Ohio."[29]

As a site for forts the old portage paths came to take an important place in the social order of things. In many parts settlements were safe only within the immediate vicinity of a fort. Often they were safe only within the palisade walls of upright logs;[30] and around these interior fortresses the first lands were cleared and the first grain sowed. They were trading posts as well as forts--indeed many of the portage forts were originally only armed trading stations located at the portages because these were common routes of travel. Around them the Indians raised their huts when the semi-annual hunting seasons were over. Thus on the portage, settlements sprang up about the forts to which the military régime had no objection--though such settlements were discouraged equally by those devoted to the earliest fur trade and to missionary expansion.[31] But military officers found their one hope of retaining the land lay in allying the Indians firmly with them. The attempts of the French so to shift the seats of the Indian tribes in the West that the English could not trade with them or deflect them from French interest forms an interesting chapter in the early rivalry for Indian support.[32] This never appeared more acute than at Fort Duquesne in 1758 when Forbes's army was approaching and the brave missionary Post was among the Delawares urging them to leave the region about the fort and abandon the French.

These portage forts being, oftentimes, half-way places, were convenient points for conventions and treaties. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768) was one of the most important in our national history; other conventions, such as at Fort Watauga (1775), Fort Miami (1791), Greenville (1795), and Portage des Sioux (1815), are instances of important conventions meeting at half-way fortresses on or near the portage passageways.

When the pioneer era of expansion dawned, these worn paths, in many cases, became filled with the eager throngs hastening westward to occupy the empire beyond the mountains. The roads the armies had cut during the era of military conquest became the main lines of the expansive movement and only the waterways which gave access to the Ohio River or the Great Lakes were of great importance. The two important roadways which served as portages were the Genesee Road from the Mohawk to Buffalo, and Braddock's Road from Alexandria, Virginia to Brownsville (Redstone Old Fort), Pennsylvania. The heavier freight of later days tended to lengthen the old portages, as each terminus had to be located at a depth of water which would float many hundred-weight. But, as in the old days of canoes, the stage of water still determined the length of portage. Freight sent over the Alleghenies for the lower Ohio River ports of Indiana and Kentucky was shipped at Brownsville if the Monongahela contained a good stage of water; if not, the wagons continued onward to Wheeling with their loads. Old residents at such points as Rome, New York; Watertown, Pennsylvania; Akron, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana remember vividly the pioneer day of the portages when barrels of salt and flour, every known implement of iron, mill stones, jugs and barrels of liquor, household goods, seeds, and saddles composed the heterogeneous loads that were dragged or rolled or hauled or "packed" over the portages of the West. Strenuous individuals have been known to roll a whiskey barrel halfway across a twenty-mile portage.

With the settling of the country and a new century came a new age of road-building. Travel until now had been on north and south routes--on portage paths, which usually ran north and south between the heads of rivers which flowed north or south, on routes of the buffalo, which the herds had laid on north and south lines during their annual migrations, and on Indian trails which had been worn deep by the nations of the north and those of the south during their immemorial conflicts. The main east and west land routes, such as Forbes's and Braddock's, were now to be replaced by well-made thoroughfares. In the building of certain of these, the dominating influence of water transportation, and, consequently, the strategic routes between them, were considered of utmost importance. This is emphasized strikingly in the building of the Cumberland National Road across the Alleghenies by the United States Government (1806-1818). In the Act passed by Congress enabling the people of Ohio to form a state we read: "That one-twentieth of the net proceeds of the lands lying within said State sold by Congress shall be applied to the laying out and making public roads leading from the navigable waters emptying into the Atlantic, to the Ohio."[33] The Commissioners appointed according to law by President Jefferson surveyed the territory through which the road should pass and met at Cumberland, Maryland for consultation. In their report of 1806 they said: "In this consultation the governing objects were:

1. Shortness of distance between navigable points on the eastern and western waters.

2. A point on the Monongahela best calculated to equalize the advantages of this portage in the country within reach of it.

3. A point on the Ohio river most capable of combining certainty of navigation with road accommodation; embracing, in this estimate, remote points westwardly, as well as present and probable population on the north and south.

4. Best mode of diffusing benefits with least distance of road."

In their choice of Cumberland as the eastern terminus for this national road the question of portage entered largely into consideration: "... it was found that a high range of mountains, called Dan's, stretching across from Gwynn's to the Potomac, above this point, precluded the opportunity of extending a route from this point in a proper direction, and left no alternative but passing by Gwynn's; the distance from Cumberland to Gwynn's being upward of a mile less than from the upper point, which lies ten miles by water above Cumberland, the Commissioners were not permitted to hesitate in preferring a point which shortens the portage, as well as the Potomac navigation."

After outlining the route of the road, the Commissioners summed up matters as follows: "... it will lay about twenty-four and a half miles in Maryland, seventy-five and a half in Pennsylvania, and twelve miles in Virginia; ... this route ... has a capacity at least equal to any other in extending advantages of a highway; and at the same time establishes the shortest portage between the points already navigated, and on the way accommodates other and nearer points to which navigation may be extended, and still shorten the portage.... Under these circumstances the portage may be thus stated:

"From Cumberland to Monongahela, sixty-six and one-half miles. From Cumberland to a point in measure with Connelsville, on the Youghiogeny river, fifty-one and one-half miles. From Cumberland to a point in measure with the lower end of the falls of the Youghiogeny, which will lie two miles north of the public road, forty-three miles. From Cumberland to the intersection of the route with the Youghiogeny river, thirty-four miles.... The point which this route locates, at the west foot of Laurel Hill, having cleared the whole of the Alleghany mountain, is so situated as to extend the advantages of an easy way through the great barrier, with more equal justice to the best parts of the country between Laurel Hill and the Ohio. Lines from this point to Pittsburg and Morgantown, diverging nearly at the same angle, open upon equal terms to all parts of the western country that can make use of this portage; and which may include the settlements from Pittsburg up Big Beaver, to the Connecticut reserve, on Lake Erie, as well as those on the southern borders of the Ohio and all the intermediate country."

Thus it is clear that our one great national turnpike was, in reality, a portage path. Upon this same general principle many of our first highways were built, in an era when inland water navigation, on canal and river, was considered the secret of commercial prosperity.

With the building of canals, the ancient portages again became prominent because of geographical position; in every state the portage paths marked the summit levels. In the cases of such important works as the Erie Canal and the Ohio Canal the portages between the Mohawk and Wood Creek in New York and between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas in Ohio were of vital importance. In many instances, at the points where the old portages mark the spots of least elevation, two canals are found converging from three or four valleys.

It is quite impossible for us to realize the importance attached to the portage routes in days when steam navigation and locomotion were not dreamed of. This is suggested by the clause of the famous Ordinance of 1787 in which they were again declared to be "common highways forever free." Washington's serious study of this subject is exceedingly interesting--not less so because many of his plans which seemed to many idle dreaming were completely realized not long after his death.[34]

With the advent of the era of railway building, and as the number of the shining rails increase yearly at these geographical centers, the strategic nature of the portage routes has been and is still being strongly emphasized. Engineering art is now defying nature everywhere, and daring feats of bridge-building are daily accomplished; but the old routes and passes still remain the most practicable, and in the long run pay best. In spite of the fact that tunnels can go wherever money dictates, and bridges can be swung across the most baffling chasms, at the same time the fiercest struggles for rights of way (outside the cities) are being waged today for the portage paths first trod by the Indian.


A Catalogue of American Portages



As introductory to the description of the more noted American portages, it will be advantageous to present them at a bird's-eye view in the form of a comparative chart stating the names and termini of each, with a remark concerning its specific function:

_Portage Route._ _Water Termini._ _Remarks._ ----------------------------------------------------------------------

St. Johns--St. Grand River--Wagan. This and the two Lawrence. following are important land passes in the water route up the St. Johns to Canada.

Same. Touladi--Trois Pistoles.

Same. Ashberish--Trois Pistoles.

Same. Temiscouata--Rivière Route of present post du Loup. road between same points.

Same. St. Francis--Lake Short but difficult Pohenegamook, to head portage. of La Fourche branch of Rivière du Loup.

Same. Black River--Ouelle. Morris Map describes this as an express route.

Same. North-West Branch of "Grand Portage." St. John River--Rivière du Sud.

Same. Lake Etchemin route. Route of Etchemin Indians to Quebec.

Kennebec--St. Rivière des Probably the most Lawrence. Loups--Moosehead practicable route from Lake--Rivière Quebec up the Chaudière Chaudière. and over the divide into the Kennebec River.

Same. Dead River--Chaudière Probably the most ("The Terrible practicable route from Carrying-place"). the south by way of the Kennebec to Quebec. Arnold's route.

Connecticut--St. Same. Important Indian route Francis. from Canada into New Hampshire.

Connecticut-- Otter Creek--Black(?) Route from French Lake Champlain. River. ports on Lake Champlain to the Connecticut Valley.

Hudson--Lake Hudson--Lake George. The "Grand Pass" from Champlain. the Hudson Valley toward Canada. Followed by Dieskau, Johnson, Montcalm, Abercrombie and Burgoyne.

Same. Hudson--Wood Creek--Lake Portage to Fort Ann. George.

St. Lawrence-- St. Lawrence--Richelieu. Last portage in the Lake Champlain. "Grand Pass" from New York to Montreal.

Hudson--Lake Mohawk--Wood Creek Strategic portage in Ontario. (feeder of Lake Oneida). the route from Albany and New York to Oswego and Niagara.

Mohawk-- Mohawk--Lake Otsego. Route from Central Susquehanna. New York to Pennsylvania.

Niagara. Portage around Niagara Another route around Falls. Niagara Falls was by portage from western extremity of Lake Ontario to Grand River.

Chautauqua. Chautauqua Céloron's Route to the Creek--Chautauqua Lake. Ohio.

Lake Erie-- Lake Erie--French Creek. Marin's Route to Allegheny. Fort Duquesne.

Ohio River-- Cuyahoga--Tuscarawas. Route from Muskingum Lake Erie. to Lake Erie.

Same. Scioto--Sandusky.

Same. Miami--Auglaize and Céloron's return route St. Mary. from the Ohio to Lake Erie.

Wabash--Lake Maumee--St. "The Wabash--Maumee Erie. Mary--Little River Trade Route." ("Petite Rivière.")

Wabash--Lake Wabash--St. Joseph. Michigan.

Illinois--Lake Kankakee--St. Joseph. Michigan.

Illinois--Lake Des Plaines--Illinois. Michigan.

Mississippi-- Pigeon River--Lake of Direct route from Lake Michigan. the Woods. Georgian Bay and Lake Michigan to the Mississippi.

Lake Superior-- Green Bay--Fox-Wisconsin. "The Grand Portage." Hudson Bay.



The territory lying between the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic seaboard offers an unexcelled field for the study of portage paths and their part in the history of the continent. The student of this branch of archæology finds at his disposal the admirable studies of Dr. William F. Ganong, which cover an important portion of this field.[35] From these studies (the best published account) the following general statements concerning Indian routes of travel are very enlightening:

"The Indians of New Brunswick, like others of North America, were, within certain limits, great wanderers. For hunting, war, or treaty making, they passed incessantly not only throughout their own territory, but over that limit into the lands of other tribes. The Indian tribes of Acadia have never, within historic times, been at war with one another, but they joined in war against other tribes and mingled often with one another for that and other reasons. In facilities for such travels our Indians were exceptionally fortunate, for the Province is everywhere intersected by rivers readily navigable by their light canoes. Indeed I doubt if anywhere else in the world is an equal extent of territory so completely watered by navigable streams, or whether in any other country canoe navigation was ever brought to such a pitch of perfection or so exclusively relied upon for locomotion. The principal streams of the Province lead together curiously in pairs, the country is almost invariably easy to travel between their sources, and a route may be found in almost any desired direction.... No doubt, an Indian in selecting his route of travel to a given point, where more than one offered, would average up, as a white man would do, the advantages and drawbacks of each for that particular season, taking account of the length of the routes, amount of falls and portaging, the height of the water, etc., and his decision would be a resultant of all the conditions and would be different in different seasons. It is not easy to understand why so many routes from the St. John to Quebec were in use, unless some offered advantages at one time, others at another. Between the heads of the principal rivers were portage paths. Some of these are but a mile or two long--others longer. Some of these portages are still in use and uninfluenced by civilization. A good type is that between Nictor Lake and Nepisiguit Lake, which I have recently seen. The path is but wide enough to allow a man and canoe to pass. Where it is crossed by newly fallen trees the first passer either cuts them out, steps over them, or goes round, as may be easiest, and his example is followed by the next. In this way the exact line of the path is constantly changing though in the main its course is kept. No doubt some of these paths are of great antiquity. Gesner states that one of the most used, that between Eel River Lake and North Lake, on the route from the St. John to the Penobscot, had been used so long that the solid rocks had been worn into furrows by the tread of moccasined feet; and Kidder quotes this and comments upon it as probably the most ancient evidence of mankind in New England. A somewhat similar statement is made by Monro as to the Misseguash--Baie Verte portage. I have seen something very similar on the old portage path around Indian Falls on the Nepisiguit, but I am inclined to think it is the hob-nailed and spiked shoes of the lumbermen which have scored these rocks, and not Indian moccasins and it is altogether likely that this explanation will apply also to the case mentioned by Gesner, whose over-enthusiastic temperament led him into exaggerated statements. In New Brunswick the lines of regular travel seem to have followed exclusively the rivers and the portage paths between their heads, and there is no evidence whatever of former extensive trails leading from one locality to another through the woods, such as are well known to have existed in Massachusetts. The difference in the distribution and navigability of the rivers amply explains this difference. It is not, of course, to be supposed that the Indians never departed from these routes; in their hunting expeditions they undoubtedly wandered far and wide, and especially in the valleys of the smaller and navigable brooks. Moreover, they undoubtedly had portages used only on rare occasions, and also at times forced their way over between streams where there was no regular route, but in general the main rivers gave them ample facilities for through travel from one part of the Province to another, and they had no other method. The birch canoe was the universal vehicle of locomotion to the New Brunswick Indian; it was to him what the pony is to the Indian of the West.

"The labour of crossing the portages was always severe, but the Indians took, and take, it philosophically, as they do everything that cannot be helped. While canoe travel in good weather, on full and easy rivers, is altogether charming, it becomes otherwise when low water, long portages and bad weather prevail. We obtain vivid pictures of its hardships from the narratives of St. Valier, and from several of the Jesuit missionaries. Since many of the portage paths are still in use by Indians, hunters, and lumbermen, their positions are easy to identify, and many of them are marked upon the excellent maps of the Geological Survey. Many others, however, have been long disused, and have been more or less obliterated by settlement, or by roads which follow them, and these are not marked upon our recent maps. I have made a special effort to determine the exact courses of these portages before they are lost forever, and where I have been able to find them by the aid of residents I have given them on the small maps accompanying this paper. All portages known to me are marked upon the map of New Brunswick, in the Pre-historic or Indian period accompanying this paper, and their routes of travel are in red on the same map. The lines show how thoroughly intersected the Province was by their routes. This map does not by any means mark all the navigable rivers, but only those which form parts of through routes of travel. The relative importance of routes I have tried to represent by the breadth of the lines, the most important routes having the broadest lines. Many of the most ancient portages had distinct names but I have not recovered any of these. Kidder gives as the ancient Indian name of Eel River--North Lake Portage the name Metagmouchchesh (variously spelled by him), and I have heard that more than one was called simply "The Hunters' Portage" by the Indians, possibly to distinguish the less important ones used only in hunting from those of the through routes. When Portages are spoken of at this day they are usually given the name of the place towards which they lead; thus, a person on the Tobique would refer to the portage at the head of that river as the Nepisiguit, or the Bathurst Portage, and on the Nepisiguit, he would speak of it as the Tobique Portage. This usage seems to be old and perhaps it is widespread. Thus Bishop Plessis, in his journal of 1812, speaking of the portage between Tracadie and Tabusintac Rivers (the latter leading to Neguac), says (page 169): 'We reached a portage of two miles which the people of Tracadie call the Nigauek Portage, and those of Nigauek the Tracadie Portage.'

"The situations of many of the old portages are preserved to us in place names. Thus we have _Portage Bridge_, at the head of the Misseguash; _Portage Bank_, on the Miramichi, near Boiestown (not on the maps); _Portage River_, on the Northwest Miramichi, also as a branch of the Tracadie, also west of Point Escuminac, and also south of it; _Portage Brook_, on the Nepisiguit, leading to the Upsalquitch; _Portage Lake_, between Long and Serpentine Lakes; _Portage Station_, on the Intercolonial Railway. Kingston Creek, at the mouth of the Belleisle, was formerly called _Portage Creek_. _Anagance_ is the Maliseet word for Portage; and _Wagan_ and _Wagansis_, on the Restigouche and Grand River, are the Micmac for Portage, and a diminutive of it."[36]

The chief routes of travel were along the sea-coasts and up and down the valley of the St. John River--the latter routes being of most importance.

"Of all Indian routes," writes Dr. Ganong, "in what is now the Province of New Brunswick, the most important by far was that along the River St. John. This river was, and is, an ideal stream for canoe navigation. It not only has easy communication with every other river system in this and the neighbouring provinces, but it is in itself very easy to travel.... The St. John rises in Maine and its head waters interlock with those of the Penobscot, and with the Etechemin flowing into the St. Lawrence near Quebec."

Under the system of the St. John-Restigouche portage Dr. Ganong thus describes the Grand River--Wagan path:

"This was the most travelled of all routes across the Province. The Grand River is easy of navigation up to the Wagansis (i.e., Little Wagan), up which canoes could be taken for some two miles. A level portage of two or three miles leads into the Wagan (Micmac _O-wok-un_, 'a portage') a muddy, winding brook, which flows into the Restigouche, which to its mouth is a swift but smooth-flowing stream, unbroken by a fall, and almost without rapids. The total fall from the portage is not over 500 feet, and hence it is far easier to ascend than the Nepisiguit, and consequently was the main route across from Bay Chaleur to the St. John. For the upper waters of the St. John a route from the mouth of the Nepisiguit by Bay Chaleur to the Restigouche and thence to the St. John would be both considerably shorter and much easier than by the Nepisiguit--Tobique route.

"This portage is marked on Bouchette, 1815, Bonner, 1820, Lockwood, 1826, Wilkinson, 1859, and the Geological Survey Map. On Van Velden's original survey map of the Restigouche, 1786, a 'Carrying-place across the highlands' about nine miles is given, doubtless a portage directly from Wagan to Grand River. This route was taken by Plessis in 1812, (Journal, 267), by Gordon (p. 23), who fully describes it, and by many others. It is said in McGregor's British America, 1833 (II., 66), that the courier then travelled up this river with mails for New Brunswick and Canada, evidently by this route. Formerly the alders which blocked the Wagan and Wagansis were cut out by travellers, and even by workmen paid by the Provincial Government (as I have been told), but since a road has been cut within a few years from the St. John directly through to the Restigouche at the mouth of the Wagan, this route is no longer used, and probably is now practically impassable."

Of the St. John--St. Lawrence system Dr. Ganong describes seven routes; we use his own words:


This was one of the principal routes from the St. John to Quebec. It led through Lake Temiscouata by the Touladi River to Lac des Aigles, thence to Lac des Islets, thence by a short portage path to the Bois-bouscache River and down the Trois Pistoles. This route is described in Bailey and McInnes' Geological Report of 1888, M, pages 26, 28, 29, where it is called "one of the main highways ... between the St. John River and the St. Lawrence."


Another route from Temiscouata to Trois Pistoles was by way of the Ashberish River. This portage is marked on Bouchette, 1831, and is mentioned by him in his Topographical Dictionary, and by Bailey in his 'St. John River' (page 48). It was by either this or the last-mentioned route that Captain Pote was taken to Quebec in 1745, as he describes in his Journal, but the description is not clear as to which route was followed. The compass directions and the portages and lakes mentioned by him would rather indicate the Ashberish route, though the editor of the Journal sends him by the Lac des Aigles. This route is shown on the Franquelin-DeMeulles Map of 1686, with the continuous line used on that map for portage routes, and it is probably this route that is marked on Bellin of 1744, and on many following him.


As early as 1746 a portage path was projected along this route where now runs the highway road. A document of 1746 (Quebec MS. IV., 311) reads, "Nous donnons les ordres nécessaires pour faire pratiquer un chemin ou sentier d'environ 3 pieds dans le portage depuis la Rivière du Loup à 40 lieues audessous de Québec jusques au Lac Témisquata d'ou l'on va en canot par la rivière St. Jean jusqu'à Beaubassin, et ce pour faciliter la communication avec l'Escadre et pour y faire passer quelques détachement de françois et sauvages s'il est nécessaire." Whether or not this path was made we do not know. In 1761 this route was examined by Captain Peach (as a map in the Public Record Office shows), and about 1785, a road was cut along it as a part of the post route from Quebec to Nova Scotia. From that time to the present it has been much travelled, and is often referred to in documents and books.


The exact course of this portage I have not been able to locate, but it probably ran from Lake Pohenegamook to some of the lakes on the La Fourche branch of the Rivière du Loup. The Indian name of the St. Francis, _Peech-un-ee-gan-uk_ means the Long Portage (_Peech_, long, _oo-ne-gun_, a portage, _uk_, locative). The first recorded use of this portage is in Le Clercq in his "Établissement de la Foi." He states that about 1624, Rècollet missionaries came to Acadia from Acquitaine, and thence went to Quebec in canoes by the River Loup with two Frenchmen and five Indians. It is first shown roughly on a manuscript map of 1688, very clearly on Bellin, of 1744, and on several others following him, and on Bouchette of 1815. It is mentioned in a document of 1700 (Quebec MS. V. 348) as four leagues in length. It was by this route St. Valier came from Quebec to Acadia in 1686 or 1687, and a very detailed account of the difficulties of the voyage is given in his narrative. He states that he travelled a short distance on the Rivière du Loup and Rivière des Branches and a long distance on the St. Francis. This route he describes as shorter but harder than that ordinarily used.

On the unpublished DeRozier map of 1699 two portages are shown in this region, one from some branch of what is apparently the St. Francis to the Trois Pistoles, and one from another river to the westward of the St. Francis, perhaps from Lac de l'Est, to the Rivière du Loup, but they are given too inaccurately to admit of identification.

Between the Temiscouata and St. Francis basins are several portages; one from Long Lake at the head of the Cabano to the St. Francis, and another from Long Lake to Baker Lake; and there are other minor ones, all marked on the Geological Survey map.


On some early maps, such as Bellin, 1744, the Ouelle is made to head with a branch of the St. John, which can be only the Black River. The Morris map of 1749 marks a portage from the St. John to the Ouelle, and has this statement: "Expresses have passed in seven days by these Rivers from Chiegnecto to Quebec." The exact route of this portage I have not been able to determine.


This portage is first referred to in a letter of 1685 from Dénonville to the Minister: "Je joins a cette carte un petit dessin du chemin le plus court pour se rendre d'icy en huict jours de temps au Port Royal en Acadie, par une rivière que l'on nomme du Sud et qui n'est qu'a huict ou dix lieues au dessous de Quebec. On le ramonte environ dix lieues et par un portage de trois lieues on tombe dans celle de St. Jean qui entre dans la baye du Port Royal." This is probably the Grand Portage referred to by Ward Chipman in one of his letters of the last century.


Portages between these rivers are mentioned by Bouchette under "Etchemin" in his Topographical Dictionary. The river received its name from its use by the Etchemins (Maliseets and Penobscots) as a route to Quebec.

A large portion of the St. John Valley lies in the state of Maine and all that was true of New Brunswick, so far as early methods of locomotion are concerned, was and is true of Maine in a great measure. Maine, however, was not bounded on two sides by the ocean.

Both the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers were ancient and important routes of travel between Quebec and the sea. Of the two the Penobscot was, perhaps, the easier to navigate but the Kennebec was the more important route. James Sullivan writing of the Kennebec in the last decade of the eighteenth century observes: "The Kenebeck ... receives the eastern branch, at fifty miles distance from Noridgewock. The main branch of the Kenebeck, winding into the wilderness, forms a necessity for several carrying places, one of which, called the Great Carrying Place, is five miles across, and the river's course gives a distance of thirty-five miles, for that which is gained by five on the dry land. At one hundred miles distance, or perhaps more from the mouth of the eastern branch, the source of the main or western branch of the Kenebeck is found extended a great distance along side the river Chaudière, which carries the waters from the high lands into the St. Lawrence. The best description of this branch of the Kenebeck, is had from the Officers who passed this route under the command of General Arnold, in 1775.... The carrying place from boatable waters in it, to boatable waters in the river Chaudière, is only five miles over."[37]

Among the most interesting maps of the Kennebec-Chaudière route may be mentioned Montresor's map of 1761, "A Draught of a route from Quebec to Fort Halifax," in the British Museum.[38] The route is there given as up the "Yadatsou Chaudiere or Kettle River." When Wolf River was reached it was ascended; then to "River Ahoudaounkese." Here was a portage of five miles to within about that distance of Lake Oukeahoungauta; portage of about one half mile to Loon Lake; thence into Moosehead Lake at the head of the east branch of the Kennebec. A portage could be made into the Penobscot; and at the southeastern extremity of Moosehead Lake are the words "Portage to the Penobscot." The return route was up the Kennebec to "The Great Carrying Place to River of Tewyongyadight or the Dead River." This was Arnold's route, already referred to by Mr. Sullivan. Ascending the Dead to "The Amaguntic Carrying Place" (a portage of about four miles) the route is marked to "the River of Mekantique" and through "The meadow of Mekantique;" thence through "Lake of Me' Kantique de St Augustin" and into the Chaudière.

Perhaps the earliest map showing a road throughout the Kennebec and Chaudière valleys is "A New Map of Nova Scotia & Cape Britain" (1755) in the British Public Records Office.[39] The road bears the name "Kenebec Road."

Among the Haldimand Papers in the British Museum[40] is a most interesting "Journal from the last settlements on the Chaudiere to the first Inhabitants on Kennebec River kept by Hugh Finley, from the 13th of September that he left Quebec until the 30th that he arrived at Falmouth in Casco Bay in the P[r]ovince of the Massachusets Bay--1773." Finley had been appointed "Surveyor of Post roads on the Continent of North America" and, in view of the tedious length and the common retardments of the Lake Champlain route between Canada and New England, determined to explore the Chaudière-Kennebec route. Four Indian guides accompanied the surveyor, who were "to mark (as they should pass along in their rough way) the Path by which a good road might be cut." The last farm on the Chaudière was "52 Miles S. Easterly of Quebec." "The reaches in this river are long between rapid and rapid, but navigable for batteaus only." On the fifteenth the party had reached "Rapide du Diable;" seven miles further was "La Famine" River where were two huts. Four miles further they arrived at "des loups" River. This was the common upward route of travel as the upper Chaudière route was interrupted by ponds, swamps, etc. Concerning Indian maps Mr. Finley makes an interesting statement: "It is impossible to guess distances from an Indian draft, that people have no idea of proportion."

On the eighteenth the party encamped early in the afternoon "on purpose to pack up our Provisions &c in proper Packages to be distributed in proportional burthens to each of the party as we were next day to proceed thro the woods." Then came a desperate journey of nine miles in nine hours up steeps, over and under trees which tore the canoes and almost exhausted their bearers. At the end of two small lakes a half mile portage brought the travelers to another lake. "Half over this carrying place is the just hight of Land between Canada & New England," wrote Mr. Finley, "consequently the boundary line between the Province of Quebec and Massachusets Bay will be a line drawn half way between the Lake we just left and this Lake."

According to Finley this portage was ninety-six miles from Quebec and forty-six from the last house on the Chaudière--by the route he had traversed. He proceeded down the Kennebec, up the "Androcogkin" to Brunswick and across by land to Casco Bay.

miles "It appears by this Journal, that the distance from Quebec to Launieres the last house on the River Chaudiere in a good road is 52

From Launier's house to carry a road in the best path through a country dry and level (as appears by the proper rout projected) down to Noridgiwalk, the first and nearest settlement in New England 150

From Noridgewalk to Oaks's or Wassarunset R 10

From Oaks's or Wassarunset to Casco Bay 98 --- In all from Quebec to Falmouth [Portland] 310"

It is clear that the route from Quebec to the Kennebec was by way of "des loups" River to Moosehead Lake--named, writes Finley, "from a very remarkable Mountain [on] the S side about nine miles down. the Indians say that it resembles a moose deer stooping." It is equally clear that the route from the Kennebec to Quebec was by way of the western branch, the Dead River and the Chaudière.

This route was made historic by Arnold's famous campaign of 1775 and has recently been described with intense feeling by Professor Justin H. Smith.[41]

"Arnold's men found lower Dead River, as we can see from their journals, much as it now is. On both sides luxuriant grass covered the plain, or faded out in the reaches of poorer soil; tall evergreens, rather thinly planted, soughed and swayed above it; while here and there a glimpse could be had of goodly mountains, the confines of the valley." Professor Smith graphically describes the trials of those who traveled by water. Those who attempted to travel the "Kenebec Road" suffered even worse: "The land parties fared no better. It was impossible to keep along the river. Detours and wide circuits multiplied all distances. Swollen rivulets had to be followed up until a narrow place was found and a tree could be felled across for a bridge. Once, if not more than once, a party marched for miles up a stream only to discover that it was not Dead River at all. At night many of the men were unable to find the boats and had to bivouac as they could, without supper and without breakfast." At last the brave band neared the portage to the north-flowing waters. Despite their distressing fatigues "there was only one thought:" writes Professor Smith, "advance; and the army set forward as rapidly as possible on the twenty-fifth and longest portage, four miles and a quarter over the Height of Land. For once their misfortunes wore the look of blessings: there was little freight. The provisions weighed only four or five pounds per man. A large part of the gunpowder proved to be damaged, and was thrown away.... The bateaux had broken up one by one, until some of the companies had scarcely any left. Morgan had preserved seven, and was determined on taking them across, for there was no other way to transport his military stores down the Chaudière; but resolution of such a temper was now beyond mere men. An attempt was made to trail the bateaux up a brook that enters Arnold Pond; but the attempt had to be given up, and each company, except Morgan's, took only a single boat over the portage.

"Even in this light order, the troops were hardly able to conquer the mountain. There was a trail, to be sure, and Steele's pioneers had bettered it; but a mountain trail, even when good, is not a highway, except in altitude. 'Rubbish' had been collecting here ever since creation, as it seemed to Morrison, and a handful of tired men could not remove it all in a few days' time. Ten acres of trees blown down across the path had to be left there. A wet place half a mile wide could not be rooted up. Rocks, dead logs, gorges, and precipices had to be stumbled over. The snow, hiding pitfalls and stones, betrayed many a foot into a wrench and a bruise. Those who carried the boats--and no doubt all carried in turn--suffered still more, for bateaux and carriers often fell together pell-mell down a slope into the snow. 'The Terrible Carrying-place'--that was the soldiers' name for it."

The portages between the Connecticut River and the Canadian waters were of great local importance during the Old French War and the Revolution; they were not as important to the country at large as those of the northeast. The two of special significance were routes to the St. Francis River, Lake Memframagog and Otter Creek (flowing into Lake Champlain). Fort Number Four "had been built by Massachusetts when it was supposed to be within its limits. It was projected by Colonel Stoddard, of Northampton, and was well situated, in connection with the other forts, on the western frontier, to command all the paths, by which the Indians travelled from Canada to New-England."[42] This fort was on the celebrated highway from the Connecticut across country to Fort Edward on the Hudson River, so largely traveled throughout the period of military operations. In 1755 during Sir William Johnston's campaign against Fort Crown Point, New Hampshire raised five hundred men, under the command of Colonel Joseph Blanchard. "The Governor," writes Belknap, "ordered them to Connecticut river, to build a fort at Cohos, supposing it to be in their way to Crown Point. They first marched to Baker's-town, where they began to build batteaux, and consumed time and provisions to no purpose. By Shirley's advice they quitted that futile employment, and made a fatiguing march through the woods, by the way of Number-four, to Albany."[43] The failure to capture Crown Point this year brought down a scourge of Indians upon New Hampshire, particularly from the St. Francis River, between which and the Connecticut there was "a safe and easy communication by short carrying-places."[44] But the white men found this route ere long and themselves carried destruction up the St. Francis Valley.[45]

When in 1759, General Amherst was preparing to complete Wolfe's victory by reducing the remainder of Canada, eight hundred New Hampshire men proceeded under Colonel John Goffe to Fort Number Four. "But instead of taking the old route, to Albany, they cut a road through the woods, directly toward Crown Point. In this work they made such dispatch, as to join that part of the army which Amherst had left at Crown Point, twelve days before their embarkation."[46] This road was built over the portage to Otter Creek. It "began at Wentworth's ferry, two miles above the fort at No. 4, and was cut 26 miles; at the end of which, they found a path, made the year before; in which they passed over the mountain to Otter Creek; where they found a good road, which led to Crown Point. Their stores were brought in waggons, as far as the 26 miles extended; and then transported on horses over the mountains. A drove of cattle for the supply of the army went from No. 4, by this route to Crown Point."[47] This carrying place is conspicuously marked on a Board of Trade Map of 1755 in the British Public Records Office and described "_From_ Crown Point _to_ Stephens Fort _about_ 60 _Miles_ N. 25° W _nearly_."[48] Fort Stephens is placed on the "Konektikut or Long R." near the mouth of Black River. "A Survey of Lake Champlain" by William Brassier dated 1762 shows the line of this road southeast of Crown Point passing up Otter Creek. The legend reads "The Road was opened by the New Hampshire Regiments during the last War."[49]



The strategic value of the "Great Pass" from New York by way of the Hudson, Lakes George and Champlain, and the Richelieu River has already been emphasized. The important military points on the route were the portages from the Hudson to Lake George, from Lake George to Lake Champlain, the narrows at Crown Point, and the portage from Chambly to La Prairie on the St. Lawrence. These portages are marked on numerous early maps; the Hudson-Lake George portage is quite accurately drawn on Colonel Romer's Map of 1700.[50] From that year on throughout the century the greater accuracy with which it is mapped illustrates its growing importance.

One of the most interesting early descriptions of this famous pass is given on a "Map of part of New York, comprehending the country between New York and Quebec, the river Connecticut, &c., to shew 'the way from Albany to Canada ... part by land and part by water;' drawn about 1720."[51] The route is thus described:

Miles "The Way from albany to Canada described we goe part by land & part by water

1. To Sprouts or first landing by water :10

2. To fort Ingoldsby by land when [?] rivers low 14

3. To a falles by water first carrying place of 1/2 mile over 17

4. To falles by water 2^d. carrying place of 1/2^m :4

5. to fort niccolson by water 12

this is the 3^d. carrying place now we leave Hudson's river

6. goe to the Camp att wood creeke 16:

From [?] Camp down the Streame.

1 To a falle carying place is 1/4 m over by water 30

2 To Crown point begining of corlaers lake 33

3 To end of a lake begining Chamly river 40 (?)

4 To a rift in [?] River 24

5 to Rocke, a carying place of two Miles over 9

6 to chamly either by land or water 2

from chamly to Montreall by land is 18 miles by water 108 Miles

from Mont royall down the great river of Canada

1 to Sorell at the Mouth of Chamly river 54:

2 to trois river it comes allmost from hudsons bay 36:

3 to Quebec the chief place in Canada 90:"

Another itinerary is given in a "Sketch of the Indian Country on the north of New York" presented "to the board by Maj^r. gov^r. Winthrop:[52]

"The Several Distances from Albany to Cubeck Leagues

From Albany to Saragtoqua 12 From Saragtoqua to ye carrying place 6 The Carrying place over 4 From ye Carrying [place to the] Falls 11 From the Falls to [chambly] 12 From Chambly to Sorel 18 From Sorel to S^t. Fransoy 4 from st Fransoy to Troy [Trois] River 9 From Troy River to Champlain 5 From Champlain to Batishan 2 From Batishan to Lovenjere 10 From Lovenjere to Cubeck 12 Colaers Lake long 30 From y^e End of y^e Lake to Chambly 12"

Perhaps the most detailed description of the Pass is given by a former prisoner among the French who has written the following observations on a copy of a "French Draught of Lake Champlain & Lake George."[53] The text shows that the date of the observations is about 1756:

"From Fort Edward to Fort William Henry, on Lake George fifteen Miles good Road. This Lake is thirty Six Miles Long, and in the Widest part not quite three, all very good Navigation But for two miles at the farther End Becomes a Narrow Winding Creek, Very Mountainous on Each Side particularly the East, the Landing place is within three Miles of Ticonderoga, where the Lake Begins to Discharge itself into Champlain over Several Little Falls which Interupt the Navigation for a mile & half, where every thing is Carried over Land for that Distance, on the Eastern Side, to a Saw Mill the French have there, from the Mill to Ticonderoga is a mile & ahalf more, water carriage only dry a very narrow Creek Overlook'd by Steep Mountains on each Side, this is the only Communication their is from Lake George to Ticonderogo for Artillery, and heavy Baggage and is altogither one of the most Difficult and most Dangerous Passes in North America.

"FRENCH DRAUGHT of Lake Champlain & Lake George with Remarks of an English prisoner who Return'd from Quebec to Fort Edward, by the River S^t. Lawrence River Sorrelle & these Lakes touch'd at Fort Chamblay Fort S^t. Johns Crown point & Ticonderoga.

"This Draught is pretty Correct from Crown point towards Canada But from Crown point to Fort Edward is not so Exact. however their are no Capital Errors to Mislead an Army or Party going that way the whole Being Sufficient to give a good Idea of those important Waters.

"Distances in these Remarks are from the River S^t Lawrence to Fort William Henry taken from French Authoritys, But from Ticonderogo to Fort Edward by way of wood Creek from the English.

"From Fort Edward to wood Creek where it Becomes Navigable for Batteaux, Eleven Miles, from thence to wood Creek Falls twenty eight miles, from these Falls to Ticonderogo thirty miles uninterrupted Navigation. A few miles Beyond the Falls is a Branch of wood Creek Call'd South Bay, a noted Rendevous for the Enemys Scalping parties from Ticonderogo. It was from this place that General Dieskeau march'd when he Attack'd General Johnston's Entrenchment on Lake George, it is twenty five miles Distance from Fort Edward & Sixteen from Fort William Henry.

"Ticonderogo by the French call'd Carrillon is Distance from Fort Edward by way of Lake George fifty four miles, stands upon that part of Champlain Call'd by the English wood Creek on the western side it is a small Square wooden Fort Advantageously Situate & Regularly built, has two Ravelins, one to the Land, the other, to the water, which with the Ditch are still Unfinish'd Because of the Rockyness of the Ground, the Garrison Usually Consists of Four Hundred men & Fort will Contain no more.

"From Ticonderogo to Fort S^t. Frederick or Crown point Fifteen miles, good Navigation some Islands & the Creek not above a mile wide, but the Strait at the point is about three hundred & fifty yards.

"Fort St Frederick is a place of no Strength being Commanded by several rising Grounds, is Built of Stone very ruinous & irregular, and however its appearance may be upon paper is by no means Tenable once an army gets before it. their are several houses on the outside but it cannot contain so many men within the walls as Ticonderogo.

"From Crown Point to Fort St Johns is one hundred and five [?] miles all Navigable as from wood Creek Falls, for vessels, the French have two upon the Lake of Sixty Tons each, but their is water for much Larger a good many very fine Islands very safe Navigation good Anchoring & Shelter every where against all Winds the Lake is very unequal in its breadth but its greatest is seven miles. it abounds with Creeks & Bays particularly on the East side which give admission to the New England Colonies as wood Creek & Lake George Do to New York. Notwithstanding the French Plantations with the names of their owners mark'd out in the Draught there is not a Single Inhabitant between St Johns & Ticonderoga from under the Cannon of their Forts a few Straggling houses indeed there are, which have been deserted since the war.

"Fort St John is built of Pallisados only & two wooden Blockhouses in the Angles next the water has a few Swivels & is of no use but against small arms for which it was Originally Design'd. From Fort St Johns to La Prarie on the South Bank of St Lawrence River is fifteen miles Land Carriage Only over a Level Country Partly Settled from La Prarie to the Town & Island of Montreall is Three miles.

"From Fort S^t. Johns Down Sorrell River to Chamblay there is no Navigation for vessels & a mile from the Fort they are Obliged to Lighten their Batteaux for a hundred yards in Dry Seasons but from that to S^t. Etreze [Threse?] half way betwixt both Forts Six miles from Each is good Batteau Navigation & a fine Landing place on the west side covered by an Island. here Commence the French Settlements & here is a Magazine for Supplying the Forts on Lake Champlain.

"From S^t. Etraze to Chamblay Fort the River is very rocky & rapid and not Navigable But for Light Batteaux when the waters are high so that they most Commonly Carry for that Distance by Land. from Chamblay to La prarie Opposite to Montreall is twelve miles good Road in Dry Seasons & a fine Level Country. Chamblay is a stone Fort built above Sixty years ago & is not Tenable against Cannon. a Little below the fort, Sorrell River forms a Beautiful Bason Continues so till it empties itself into the great River St Lawrence at Sorrell Village forty five miles below Montreall & one hundred & thirty five above Quibec.

"There are no Indians upon Lake Champlain except a small tribe of the Abnacques consisting of twenty families who Live at the Bottom of Massisque Bay, neither does it abound with Bever or such other Commoditys as Constitute the Indian Commerce therefore it has been formerly too much Neglected & represented as an Aquisition of Less Value than more Distance Lakes & Rivers which would Never have been thought of had it not been for the riches they produced, But this Lake is Nevertheless by far the most important Inland water in North America, Because it is the key of the Enemys Country, a Canal leading from New England, & New York, to the very Bowels of Canada, to Montreall in particular, the Seat of all their Indian trade & warlike preparations & which with the country round it is the most fertile part of all that province.

"Crown point Commands the whole Lake as it is the only Strait there is upon it, that can in the Least Among Vessels or boats in passing, till Arrived within a few miles of the French Settlements, therefore the English when in possession of that pass can land an Army openly or partys Secretly, in many Different places within a few hours march of the French Inhabitants, by which means they will have it in their power not only to Invade in time of War, but make reprisalls upon any other Occasion whenever they receive the Least Injury from French or Indians in any part of his Majestys Dominions In North America.

miles "From Fort Edward to Fort W^m Henry 15 From Fort W^m Henry to Ticonderogo 39 From Ticonderogo to Crown point 15 From Crown point to Fort S^t Johns 105 From Fort S^t Johns to La prarie 15 From La prarie to Montrall 3 --- 192 From Fort S^t Johns to Chamblay 12 From Chamblay to La prarie 12-24 From Chamblay to the mouth of the Sorrell River 45 From the mouth of the Sorrell River to Montreall 45 From D^o. to Quebic 135

"Lake Champlain (besides being the only Channel by which the English can possibly invade Canada from their frontiers) is the only one by which they can be Invaded from thence, for through the whole Extent of the South Bank of S^t. Lawrence River, or the great Lakes there is not another Communication by which an Army can be brought Sufficient to make any Conquest."

The forts which guarded this historic route have been mentioned, and it is possible here only to hint of the remarkable story of the ebb and flow of the war tides which have made the "Grand Pass" perhaps the most alluring field of study in America. Under the specific title "Saratoga and the Northern War-path" an entertaining writer has sketched the place in history occupied by this water thoroughfare and its vital land connections.[54] The story beginning far back in the seventeenth century includes De Tracy's expedition to the Mohawk country in 1666; between 1686 and 1695 "numerous war parties passed through _Kay-ad-ros-se-ra_ and Saratoga on their way to and from the hostile settlements on the St. Lawrence and the Mohawk and lower Hudson." A list of the important expeditions only would include those of 1689; 1690, under Le Moyne upon Schenectady; 1690, under General Winthrop; 1691, under Major Schuyler; and 1693-95. From this time peace reigned until Queen Anne's War in 1709. This year witnessed Winthrop's and Nicholson's campaigns; in 1711 Nicholson again swept up the Hudson on his way toward Quebec, but was compelled to abandon his plan. From 1713 until 1744 there were thirty-one years of peace--during which time the French built Forts Crown Point and Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. In 1744 the war was again resumed; "during this short war no less than twenty-seven marauding parties swept down from Fort Frederick at Crown Point upon the settlers of what are now Saratoga and Rensselaer counties." On June 17, 1747, in the night, the new English Fort Clinton at Saratoga was attacked by La Corne. In the following year it was destroyed by the English because of its exposed situation, and Albany once more became the most northern outpost. The peace signed in 1748 lasted until the outbreak of the final struggle in 1755. Then followed Johnson's, Winslow's, and Abercrombie's campaigns up the Hudson against Ticonderoga, and Montcalm's swoop upon Fort William Henry.

In 1777 the "Northern War Path" became again the route of armies--and here the decisive battle of Saratoga was fought and won. Of this campaign mention will be made again.

The western war-route to the Lakes was up the Mohawk and down the Onondaga (Oswego) Rivers. Albany and Oswego were its termini; and the Oneida carrying-place of one mile (in favorable seasons) between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, at Rome, New York, was its key. This famous route is interestingly described by Mr. Sylvester as follows:[55]

"The first carrying place on the great western route was from the Hudson at Albany through the pine woods to the Mohawk at Schenectady. This carrying place avoided the _Ga-ha-oose_ Falls. At the terminus of the old Indian carrying place on the Hudson, now called Albany, the Dutch, under Hendrick Christiensen, in 1614, built Fort Nassau on Castle Island.... In 1617 they built another fort at the mouth of the Normanskill, at the old Indian _Ta-wa-sent-ha_--'the place of the many dead.' In 1623 Fort Orange was built by Adriaen Joris, and eighteen families built their bark huts and spent there the coming winter....

"In the year 1662 Arendt van Curler, and other inhabitants of Fort Orange, 'went west' across the old carry through the pines to the rich Mohawk flats and founded a settlement. To this settlement they applied the old Indian name of Albany, calling it Schenectady. From Albany it was the new settlement on the Mohawk beyond the pines....

"From Schenectady the western trail ran up the Mohawk to what is now the city of Rome, where there was another carry of a mile in length, to the Wood Creek which flows into Oneida Lake. This carrying place, afterward the site of Fort Stanwix, was called by the Indian _Da-ya-hoo-wa-quat_ (Carrying-place). From it the old trail ran through the Oneida Lake, and down the Oswego River to Lake Ontario. At the mouth of the Oswego River, on Lake Ontario, was the old Indian village called _Swa-geh_, the lake-port of the Iroquois.... Between Schenectady and _Swa-geh_ was a line of forts built for the protection of the traveling fur-traders, and as barriers to French and Indian invasion from the valley of the St. Lawrence. The first of these was at the mouth of the Schohariekill, and was called Fort Hunter. It was built on the site of old Indian _Te-hon-de-lo-ga_, the lower castle of the Mohawks. Above Fort Hunter, near the Indian _Ga-no-jo-hi-e_--'washing the basin'--the middle Mohawk castle, was Fort Plain. The Indian name of Fonda was _Ga-na-wa-da_--meaning 'over the rapids.' Of Little Falls, it was _Ta-la-que-ga_--'small bushes,' and of Herkimer the Indian name was _Te-uge-ga_, the same as the river. At Herkimer was Hendrick's castle and Fort Herkimer, near _Ga-ne-ga-ha-ga_, the upper Mohawk castle.... The Indian name for Utica was _Nun-da-da-sis_--meaning 'around the hill.' At Utica, the Indian trail from the west crossed the river.... A little above Utica was a small Indian station called _Ole-hisk_--'the place of nettles.' This is now Oriskony, one of the famous battle-grounds of the Revolution.... At the mouth of Wood Creek, on the Oneida Lake, a Royal Blockhouse was built, and at the west end of Oneida Lake, in 1758, Fort Brewerton was built. The Indian name for Wood Creek was _Ka-ne-go-dick_; for Oneida Lake was _Ga-no-a-lo-hole_--'head on a pole.' For Syracuse the Indian name was _Na-ta-dunk_, meaning 'pine-tree broken with top hanging down,' and the Indian name of Fort Brewerton was _Ga-do-quat_."

The Oneida portage--as the carrying place between the Mohawk and Wood Creek is known in history--was guarded at its Mohawk terminus as early as 1732 by the erection of Fort Williams, and at the Wood Creek terminus as early as 1737 by Fort Bull. Throughout the century of conflict between French and English the Oneida portage route was of utmost importance. In the crucial years between 1755 and 1759 it was especially important. The route is thus described in a contemporaneous account:

"Oswego, along the accustomed route, is computed to be about 300 miles west from Albany. The first sixteen, to the village of Schenectady, is land carriage, in a good waggon road. From thence to the Little Falls in the Mohawk River, at sixty five miles distance, the battoes are set against a rapid stream; which too, in dry seasons, is so shallow, that the men are frequently obliged to turn out, and draw their craft over the rifts with inconceivable labour. At the Little Falls, the portage exceeds not a mile: the ground being marshy will admit of no wheel-carriage, and therefore the Germans who reside here, transport the battoes in sleds, which they keep for that purpose. The same conveyance is used at the Great Carrying-Place, sixty miles beyond the Little Falls; all the way to which the current is still adverse, and extremely swift. The portage here is longer or shorter, according to the dryness or wetness of the seasons. In the last summer months, when rains are not infrequent, it is usually six or eight miles across. Taking water again, we enter a narrow rivulet, called the Wood-creek, which leads into the Oneida Lake, distant forty miles. This stream, tho' favorable, being shallow, and its banks covered with thick woods, was at this time much obstructed with old logs and fallen trees. The Oneida Lake stretches from east to west about thirty miles, and in calm weather is passed with great facility. At its western extremity opens the Onondaga River, leading down to Oswego, situated at its entrance on the south side of the Lake Ontario. Extremely difficult and hazardous is the passage thro' this river, as it abounds with rifts and rocks; and the current flowing with surprising rapidity. The principal obstruction is twelve miles short of Oswego, and is a fall of about eleven feet perpendicular. The portage here is by land, not exceeding forty yards, before they launch for the last time."[56]

[Illustration: THE OLD ONEIDA PORTAGE IN 1756 (ROME, NEW YORK) (_From the Original in the British Museum_)]

Far-famed Fort Stanwix arose near the site of Fort Williams in 1758 and Fort Wood Creek (on the site of Fort Bull) and Fort Newport were built about the same time or a little earlier. In the British Museum may be seen a colored "plan of the forts at the Onoida, or great carrying place, in the province of New York in America," built by Major-General Shirley, commander-in-chief in North America, and destroyed by Major-General Webb, August 31, 1756, before they were finished. This map must ever be of entrancing interest to the student who views it knowingly. The strategic nature of this little plot of ground was recognized, a century or so ago, by a continent--indeed by a world. In the Old French War there was not, perhaps, so important a spot on the continent as this, the path from the Hudson to Lake George alone excepted. And when it is recalled that the Oneida portage led to the West--to the Lakes and the Ohio Basin--the Oneida path, taken throughout the years, can but be considered of preëminent importance, commercially.

A visit to thriving little Rome and a study of the country roundabout will prove of appealing interest. Here, within cannon shot, stood half a dozen forts; here, in the very center of Rome is the wide straight roadway over which millions of pioneers moved to their conquest of the West; here is the junction of the Black River and the Erie Canal, which, "conceived by the genius, and achieved by the energy of De Witt Clinton, was, during the second quarter of this [nineteenth] century, the most potent influence of American progress and civilization." And, in its turn, here lie the gleaming rails of the New York Central--and the "Empire" has covered the canal boat with dust.

The conditions here make it almost possible to say, "All roads lead to Rome, New York." From one and the same point of observation it is possible to see the junction of the Erie and Black River Canals, the portage path from the Mohawk to Wood Creek, the New York Central Railway, and the terminus of the Utica and Mohawk Valley Electric Railway. Two canals, a highway, a railway, and an electric line converging within an air-rifle shot would not be found in a town of only a few thousand inhabitants were it not for some extraordinary geographical reason.

In the olden days the adage was very true indeed, though Rome was not the old-time name. It is deemed a pity that Stanwix could not have been preserved as the name of this historic site, but it is said the revulsion against everything English during and after the Revolution made the retention of that fine historic name impossible. During the Revolutionary War the name of Fort Stanwix was changed to Fort Schuyler; but that name, with all its heritage of nobility and patriotism, was not retained, and "Fort" Schuyler has been dropped to make room for "Fort" Stanwix, which is exceedingly contradictory. When the deluge of classical names passed over central New York--Utica, Manlius, Troy, Syracuse, Rochester, etc.--that of Rome was deposited here.

A square block in the center of Rome, higher than the surrounding land, is the site of Forts Stanwix and Schuyler. It is covered with dwellings on all sides, but at each of the corner bastions is planted a cannon bearing a bronze tablet reading: "A Fort which never surrendered. Defended August 1777 by Col. Peter Ganseboort & Lieut. Col. Marinus Willett. Here the Stars & Stripes were first unfurled in battle. Erected 1758."

The country about Rome is very level, the declension in any direction being slight; water from one field is said to flow into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and into New York Bay. The explorer on the Oneida portage will find it difficult to identify the historic sites. The Erie canals have completely drained the country, and the last course is, in part, in the very bed of Wood Creek--the stream to which the portage from the Mohawk led. The nearest point to Wood Creek is distant about one mile from Rome; by the old route it was crossed again two miles further west. Of course the length of portage between the Mohawk and Wood Creek depended upon the stage of water in the latter. The portage for canoes was probably never more than the mile; in later days, when Fort Oswego was erected and supplies were sent thither by batteaux from Albany, a three and even six-mile portage was necessary in order to reach water that would float the heavy freight. At either end of the three-mile portage stood Fort Williams, on the Mohawk, and Fort Bull, on Wood Creek. The longer portage was, a little later, artificially shortened by damming the waters of Wood Creek. By the appended map it will be seen that in 1756 Fort Newport was being built at the end of the one-mile portage. The explorer of today will note in the western extremity of Rome the old basin of Wood Creek where the water was held back by dam and floodgate. The end of this basin, near where the road crosses Wood Creek, was the site of old Fort Newport. On the ruins of Fort Bull--which was destroyed in 1756 by a French raid from Canada--was erected Fort Wood Creek in 1758, distant, as the map shows, three miles from Fort Newport.

Fort Stanwix, New Fort, Fort Williams, Fort Newport, Fort Bull, and Fort Wood Creek were all erected within twenty-five years, and within three or four miles of each other. Nothing could suggest more plainly the strategic nature of this roadway on the backbone of New York. Of them all, the remains of Fort Wood Creek alone are visible, save the embankment of Fort Stanwix. Here, three miles out from Rome, where the old portage path used to run, beside the little creek now only a shadow of the oldtime stream, is the interesting star-shaped ruin of Fort Wood Creek, surrounded by a moat still five feet deep. The southern side, as the map shows, (K), was not fortified strongly like the others, as the water of the creek protected it. The dam and floodgate were just beyond the southwestern bastion and the old embankment of the dam can still be traced. The broad pond formed by the dammed water is clearly visible in outline; the present stream runs near the center of it. It was probably seldom in the olden days that the creek was not navigable here; the dam doubtless made it so, for a large part of the year, from Fort Newport downwards. Yet the narrative just quoted affirms that the portage was sometimes "six or eight miles across" in unusually dry seasons. This was certainly prior to the erection of the dams and floodgates, which "saved so much land carriage" according to the map. In dry seasons, the map assures us, the floodgates saved a portage of seven miles to Canada Creek. This is evidently the "six or eight miles" portage mentioned by the narrative.

The British campaign of 1777 was a spectacular event which covered the three great valleys which converge from the north, south, and west upon Albany. A bird's-eye view of this campaign emphasizes as it is almost impossible to do otherwise the strategic value of portage paths. From the north, Burgoyne comes up Lake Champlain and Lake George and across the portage to the Hudson, and starts down the valley; to meet him, General Clinton leaves New York and ascends the Hudson toward Albany. From Oswego St. Leger starts up the Onondaga (Oswego) River toward the Oneida carrying place and Albany--where the three armies are to form a union for the final overthrow of the revolution. St. Leger never got fairly over the Oneida portage; he could not carry Fort Schuyler which guarded it, and at Herkimer he was completely routed. Burgoyne crossed safely the portage to the Hudson, but had hardly done more when Gates was upon him and Saratoga was the early turning point of the war. To all intents and purposes the great campaign was utterly thwarted because the Americans successfully held the strategic keys of the continent--the Lake George-Hudson and the Oneida carrying places.



The portage paths from the Great Lakes, or streams entering them, to the tributaries of the Mississippi River were of great importance during the era when that river was the goal of explorers, conquerors and pioneers. So numerous were they, it is only possible to describe the most important briefly in this catalogue. The greater are worthy, each, of an exhaustive monograph, and even those of least prominence were of importance far beyond our ability to understand in these days. Of them all only three routes have received the attention they deserve; these are the Lake Erie-Lake Chautauqua portage, the Wabash route, and the St. Joseph-Kankakee portage. Several other important portages present as interesting fields of study, if not more so, as these, and local historians living near these paths will do well to interest themselves in them, map their exact routes minutely, locate the old springs, licks, forts, and traders' cabins, before all trace and recollection of them is lost.

Passing westward from Niagara the first explorers of the West found the shortest route from the lakes to the Ohio was by a portage from Chautauqua Creek to Chautauqua Lake and from thence down the Conewango to the Allegheny River. Whether or not this was the most practicable route it was, at first, of major importance. The shortest route was all too long for men on missions such as that of Céloron bearing his leaden plates to the Ohio Valley in 1749.[57]

There was, undoubtedly, an Indian portage between Lake Erie and Lake Chautauqua before Céloron's expedition, but it would seem that now the first roadway was built here. Céloron reached Niagara River July 6, 1749. He departed on the fifteenth, and "on the 16th," wrote Father Bonnècamps "we arrived early at the portage of Yjadakoin. It began at the mouth of a little stream called Rivière aux pommes ["apple River"],--the 3rd that is met after entering the lake, and thus it may be easily recognized."[58]

On the seventeenth the party began the tedious portage and "made a good league." On the day following "our people being fatigued, we shortened the intervals between the stations, and we hardly made more than half a league ... the 22nd, the portage was entirely accomplished."

Six days were thus spent in crossing the nine-mile path--a very good indication of how difficult was the journey. And yet Bonnècamps affirms "The road is passably good."[59] This road was opened by a detachment under Villiers and Le Borgne sent out by Céloron on the sixteenth--"nearly three-quarters of a league of road" being cleared the first day.[60]

A detailed study of this path has been made by Dr. H. C. Taylor of Brocton, New York.[61] From him we quote the following concerning the "Old Portage Road," as the path is known locally:

"Its starting point was on the west side of Chautauqua creek at Barcelona, within a few rods of the lake. Its course from this point was southerly along the bank of the creek, passing the afterward location of the first grist mill built in the county, by John McMahon, not far from the mouth of the creek, in 1804 or 1805, reached and crossed the now main road at the ancient cross roads, one mile west of the centre of the village of Westfield, at the monument erected there a few years since by Hon. E. T. Foote (1870). From this point by a south easterly course it soon reached the steep bank of the creek Chautauqua, along which it ran for a mile when it passed into a deep gorge of a hundred feet or more in depth, through which the creek ran, by an extensive dugway still plainly to be seen on the lands owned by Miss Elizabeth Stone, where it crossed the creek and by another dugway on lands for many years owned by Wm. Cummings, it reached the high banks a few rods from the present Glen Mills. The passage of this gorge was a work of considerable magnitude. The west bank was so very precipitous that the passage of teams would seem nearly impossible, yet it is said that in later years, before the road on the east side of the creek through the now village of Westfield was opened, vast quantities of salt and merchandise were transported over it from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua for Pittsburgh and other points in the Ohio Valley.

"On the east side of the gorge the road was less precipitous and is now a public highway. After reaching a point above Glen Mills on the south side of the gorge through which the east branch of the Chautauqua creek now runs, and where the Mayville road is now located at that point, to avoid the rugged section over the hill it passed up the east branch for some distance and continued to the east of the present thoroughfare to Mayville, and reached Chautauqua lake at or near the present steamboat landing."

By 1752--the year of Marin's expedition to the Ohio--the old road was well overgrown. In the primeval forests it did not take long for a road to become impassable if unused. Braddock's Road over the Alleghenies, cut in 1755, was impassable in 1758. This road cut in 1749 was cut out again in 1752.[62] In each case three years had elapsed. Marin reached the portage (Barcelona) in April 1752, but, warned perhaps by Céloron, was unfavorably impressed with the practicability of the route and decided to push on and find another portage to the Allegheny. Of this matter we have the testimony of Stephen Coffin, an eye-witness:

"They [Marin's vanguard] remained at the fort [Niagara] 15 days, and then set out by water, it being April, and arrived at Chadakoin, on Lake Erie [Barcelona], where they were ordered to fell timber and prepare it for building a fort, according to the Governor's instructions, but Mons. Morang [Marin] coming up the next day with 500 men and 20 Indians, put a stop to the building of the fort, not liking the situation, the river chadakoin [Chautauqua Creek] being too shallow to carry out any craft with provisions, etc, to Belle Riviere.... The two commanders had a sharp debate, the first insisting on building the fort there in accordance with the instructions, but Morang gave him a writing to satisfy the Governor on that point; and then Mons. Mercier, who was commissary and engineer was directed to go along the lake and look for a situation, which he found, and returned in a few days, it being fifteen leagues to the southwest of chadakoin."[63]

The portage chosen by Marin in preference to this Chautauqua route was that from Presque Isle (Erie, Pennsylvania) to Rivière aux Boeufs.

Marin did not accomplish the task of fort-building for which he was sent in the time prescribed, and his failure was attributed by some to his choice of route to the Allegheny. When returning to Niagara late in the fall a detachment of French from Presque Isle again landed at the Chautauqua portage. "On the 30th (October) they arrived," Coffin testified, "at Chadakoin where they stayed four days, during which time Mons. Peon [Pean] with 200 men, cut a wagon road over the carrying place from Lake Erie to Lake chadakoin, viewed the situation which proved to their liking, so set off Nov. 3d for Niagara."

We have one other glimpse of these impetuous Frenchmen widening this first portage path from the Great Lakes toward the Ohio. Samuel Shattuck was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1741. In 1752 he went from his native town on a ranging expedition and was at Fort Oswego when Marin's party went down Lake Ontario. An officer and five soldiers--one of whom was this eleven-year-old lad--were instantly sent out to watch the French squadron of canoes. They followed them to Niagara and into Lake Erie. An autobiographical story has been taken down by Dr. Taylor from the lips of Shattuck's grandson. Soon after passing Niagara, the story goes, the boats were lost to sight; "but we expected to overtake them easily, and in fact did so sooner than was agreeable to us as we came near discovering ourselves to the Indians that belonged to the expedition scattered through the woods. They had landed at the mouth of Chautauqua creek, as now called, and were already felling trees on the west side of the Creek, apparently for some sort of fortification. We were confident they had chosen this as a carrying place to some waterway south of the highlands.... From some cause not apparent to us there was a cessation of work, and after three or four days the whole of both parties, with the exception of a few Indians, embarked in their boats and moved westward." Young Shattuck went on with the party and remained near Presque Isle spying on the French movements until September, when his party returned to Oswego. In October--such was the anxiety of the English concerning this fort and road-building--the same scouts were sent back toward Presque Isle. In the meantime, as before stated, the French had started back for Niagara; landing at the Chautauqua portage to make a road. "On the seventh day out [from Oswego]," reads Shattuck's autobiographical story, "or near October 30th, as near as I remember, in the afternoon we came upon a party of nearly or quite a hundred Frenchmen rolling logs into a ravine in the bottom of a deep gulf, and digging into the steep sides of the gulf for a road, apparently, at a point that I now (1826) know to have been on the south border of the village of Westfield.... We came upon this party very suddenly and unexpectedly, for we had supposed that the whole matter of a carrying place had been transferred to Erie.... As it was we escaped and witnessed the completion of the road from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua. on the third or fourth day the whole party embarked in their boats and moved eastward."[64]

Passing west of Presque Isle, the first stream offering another passage way to the Ohio was the Cuyahoga River. Ascending this stream about twenty-five miles, an eight-mile portage, almost within the city limits of Akron, Ohio, offered the traveler a passage way to the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum River, which in turn offered a clear course to the Ohio at Marietta.

This portage is not of more than purely local interest save only that it was the first western boundary of territory west of the Ohio to be secured by the United States from the Indians. The treaties of Fort McIntosh, Fort Harmar and Greenville designate this portage as the western boundary line between white and red men. The path was surveyed in July 1797--one year after the arrival of the Connecticut pioneers in the Western Reserve--by Moses Warren Jr. Its total length was given as eight miles, four chains, and fifty-five links.

The path was, undoubtedly, of great importance in the earliest days. This route, if the rivers were passable, was certainly the most practicable of all routes from Lake Erie to the lower Ohio. The portage was comparatively easy and the Muskingum was a swift, clear river. The Cuyahoga was probably almost impassable except at floodtide. The Connecticut pioneers found it so in 1796. Pioneer settlers on the upper Tuscarawas received much of their merchandise from the east by way of Buffalo and the Cuyahoga-Tuscarawas portage.[65]

The Scioto and Miami rivers were not as large as the Muskingum but were easily plied at most seasons by the light canoe. The Sandusky and Auglaize (emptying into the Maumee) offered a waterway which, with portages, took the traveler from Lake Erie to the Ohio by these routes. That they were uncertain and difficult courses is shown by the records of Croghan and Bonnécamps.[66]

The spot of ground at the head of the Great Miami (from the source of Loramie Creek to the head of the St. Mary and Auglaize) was a more important point than one would believe without considerable investigation. Looking at the matter from the olden view-point it seems that this was one of the strategic points in the West in the canoe age. Here on Loramie Creek three routes focused--those of the St. Mary, Auglaize, and Miami rivers. Here, near the mouth of Loramie Creek, English traders erected a trading station almost contemporaneous with Céloron's journey; from their point of vantage the French drove them away, and here the earliest French store was built. This stood near the mouth of the creek in Miami County (Ohio) while sixteen miles up the creek at the beginning of the shortest portage was the location of famed Loramie's Store of later date and known to half a continent for half a century. The carrying place across to Girty's town (George not Simon Girty) was five miles to what is now St. Marys, Shelby County on the St. Mary River. Toward this point Harmar and Wayne both struck in 1790 and 1794, Wayne building Fort Loramie at that end of the portage path mentioned. A stone raised near the mouth of Loramie Creek was one of the corner stones of the old Indian treaty line mentioned in the treaties of Fort Stanwix (1784), Fort McIntosh (1786), Fort Harmar (1789) and Greenville (1795). Loramie Creek was known thereby as the "Standing Stone fork of the Great Miami." One of the remarkable features of the Loramie portage was the deadened trees to be seen here--indicative of busy canoe-building.

At the head of the Maumee--the "Miami river of Lake Erie"--a portage path led to the Wabash. It began on the left bank of the St. Mary River, a short distance above its junction with the St. Joseph, and ran eight miles to Little River, the first branch of the Wabash. This route from the Lakes to the Mississippi, at first of least importance, became finally the most important of the five great French passage ways southwest. It was discovered to be the shortest route from the capital of New France to the Mississippi and Illinois settlements and has been appropriately called "the Indian Appian Way." The importance of this route in the history of the Old Northwest has been effectively presented by Elbert Jay Benton.[67]

The voyager's canoes followed the Ottawa river from Montreal, then by portage to Lake Nipissing, and to Georgian bay, an eastern arm of Lake Huron, and thence by the northern lakes to Green bay, the Fox, and by portage to the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. It was the most natural route because in every way it was the line of least resistance. It avoided the near approaches to the Iroquois Indian limits and led directly to the numerous Indian haunts around the greater lakes. As the objective point for the westward expeditions was gradually moved farther south into the Mississippi basin, shorter routes across the territory, later known as the Old Northwest, were used. The Wisconsin portage soon yielded in point of frequency of use to those at the South end of Lake Michigan. The route up the Illinois river and by portage into the Chicago river and Lake Michigan was followed by Joliet and Marquette on their return from the discovery of the Mississippi. A few years later La Salle followed the coast of Lake Michigan to the St. Joseph river and up that stream, thence by a portage to the Kankakee, and so again to the usual destination--points on the Illinois and the Mississippi.

"About this time, in the course of the evolution of new routes leading to the Mississippi, occurred the first use of the Wabash river by white explorers. This stream was occasionally reached in the earliest period by leaving Lake Michigan on the St. Joseph river and then by a short portage to the headwaters of a northern branch of the Wabash, but the more important way to reach it was by the 'Miami river of Lake Erie' and a short portage. Of the five great portage routes,[68] this was the last one to come into general use by the whites.... Many have tried to trace La Salle's voyage of 1670 by the Wabash river. Joliet's map of 1674, which locates La Salle's route by way of Lake Erie and the Wabash, has been used in support of this contention. But the route laid down is clearly a later interpolation and adds nothing directly to the argument. It is, however, most significant that within a few years La Salle had become in some manner fully aware of this Wabash route and the advantages it offered. During the years that he was in command at Ft. Frontenac, he appears to have been evolving great schemes for appeasing the Iroquois and for opening up an easy channel of trade to the Mississippi Valley by the Maumee and Wabash; but by 1682 he seems to have temporarily abandoned this plan, 'because,' he says, 'I could no longer go to the Illinois but by the Lakes Huron and Illinois, as the other routes which I have discovered by the head of Lake Erie and by the southern coast of the same, have become too dangerous by frequent encounters with the Iroquois who are always on that shore.' La Salle's description of the territory between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan indicates a familiarity with this region scarcely possible save from personal observation. In a letter written November 9, 1680, he says, 'There is at the end of Lake Erie ten leagues below the strait a river by which we could shorten the route to the Illinois very much. It is navigable to canoes to within two leagues of the route now in use.'[69]... his [La Salle's] representations were the first to direct the attention of the French to the regions south and west of Lake Erie."[70]

Perhaps the most historic campaign in which the Wabash route played a part was Hamilton's journey across it in 1778 when he went to the recapture of Vincennes.[71] From the standpoint of this present study this campaign is of particular interest, as it was one of the exceedingly few instances in which a military movement was made by water on the lesser rivers of the West. It is remarkable that though the two important posts west of the Alleghenies, Detroit and Pittsburg, were through many years, in the possession of bitter enemies, neither one ever conquered or hardly attempted to conquer the other. A hundred plans for the capture of Detroit were conceived in Fort Pitt, and many a commander of Fort Detroit was determined to subdue Fort Pitt.[72] Yet it can almost be said that nothing of the kind was ever actually attempted, unless McIntosh's campaign be considered such an attempt. This was because the journey between them could be accomplished only by a long, tedious land march over the Great Trail,[73] or by a desperate journey over small inland streams and the portages between them. Difficult as the land journey over the Indian trail would seem, it is clear that it was considered preferable to any water route in Revolutionary days.[74]

Thus Hamilton's campaign over the Wabash route upon Vincennes was an exceptional feat, successfully accomplished after great hardships and delays. Clark's marvelously intrepid recapture of this fort by wading through the drowned lands of the Wabash has so far eclipsed all other events of that campaign that the heroism of other actors has been forgotten.

On October 28, 1778,[75] Hamilton left the Miamis' town, where he held conferences with the Indians, and proceeded to Pied-froid, on the other side of the river St. Joseph.

The day following the gun-boat was placed on the carriage with great difficulty. Two officers were left to forward the boats from the portage, and Hamilton walked to the further end of the carrying place, three leagues, where the provisions were collected. He ordered two officers with the six-pounder and ammunition to go down to carry in pirogues. "This carry is one of the sources of the Wabash," Hamilton wrote in his _Journal_, "and takes its rise on the level plain, which is a height of land near the Miamis town. The carry is called 'petite rivière.'[76] Where the pirogues were first launched, it is only wide enough for one boat, and is much embarrassed with logs and stumps. About four miles below is a beaver dam,[77] and to these animals the traders are indebted for the conveniency of bringing their peltry by water from the Indian posts on the waters of the Ouabache.[78] On my return met Lieut. Du Vernet with seven pirogues loaded. Ordered him to proceed and join Lieut. St. Cosme, who was below the dam with some men employed to clear the chemin couvert, the narrow part of the carry, so narrow and embarrassed with logs under water and boughs overhead that it required a great deal of work to make it passable for our small craft."

On October 30, Hamilton sent Lieutenant De Quindre with seven pirogues loaded with provisions, and fourteen men, to follow Lieut. Du Vernet. In the evening he went to the dam which had been cut there to give a passage for the pirogues; and by sinking a batteau in the gap, and stopping the water with sods and paddles, he raised the water.

"Lay in the wood this night. Wolves very numerous hereabout.

October 31. Returned to the camp at the Portage.

November 1. Left landing with seven batteaus and three pirogues loaded with provisions, and proceeded to the dam, which we opened and yet found the water so scanty that it was with the greatest difficulty we passed the chemin couvert. At the end of this narrow pass came to the swamp called les Volets, from the water lilies in it.[79] The batteaus frequently rested on the mud, and we labored hard up to the knees in mud and entangled among the roots and rotten stumps of trees. At length got to the channel formed by the meeting of the Petite Rivière and the Rivière a Boête.[80] Here we encamped, having got but ten miles with great fatigue.

November 2. Small party sent down the river to clear away the logs, etc. The rest of the men employed in damming the water of the two little rivers, to provide for our passage downwards. Heard from Lieut. Du Vernet below that we could not proceed from the shallowness of the water.

November 3. Work on the dam continued. A light canoe sent to the landing for workmen and tools, which returned at half past twelve at night.

November 4. Water was raised three feet. At 8 P. M. Major Hay arrived with the remainder of the boats, provisions, etc.

November 6. Major Hay proceeded down the river, the water being let off, and made another dam a mile below Rivière à l'Anglais.[81]

November 7th. Broke up the dam and proceeded to the pays plat, where the bed of the river being very broad with almost continuous ledges of rock and large stones, found great difficulty. Men in the water from 10 A. M. till after sunset, at which time only one batteau had got to the foot of the rifts (Petit Rocher). Most of the boats damaged.

November 8. Continued to work in the water to forward the boats. Sent down to Du Vernet, who was encamped at the fork of the Ouabache, for seven light pirogues and twenty-two men to assist in lightening the boats.

November 9. Set off from Petit Rocher. Arrived at the forks of the Ouabache at 3 P. M.

November 10. Repairing the boats and airing the bales which had got wet. Sent back to Petit Rocher for the provisions, which had been left there to lighten the boats. After this the river began to rise on account of the heavy rains, and snow and cold weather also came on, which increased the difficulties of the journey."

From the returns of Henry Du Vernet, second Lieutenant of Artillery, the number of perogues used by Hamilton was forty-two, and of batteaux ("and a very large French one"), ten. Ten two-wheeled carts were employed at the portage, two carriages "with 4 wheels for the Batteaus," and four "with 2 wheels for the peroques."[82]

The St. Joseph River, emptying into Lake Michigan, was one of the earlier important roundabout routes to the Mississippi. The eastern fork headed with the Wabash, and with a short portage was the route La Salle described as being "within two leagues" of the Miami of Lake Erie. This St. Joseph-Wabash portage was extremely important, but was roundabout, and was probably abandoned at a comparatively early date.

The southern branch of the St. Joseph heads near the northwest branch of the Kankakee, a tributary of the Illinois, near South Bend, Indiana. This historic path has been made the subject of a monograph by Secretary George A. Baker of the Northern Indiana Historical Society.[83] The seal of this Society is appropriately inscribed: "This region before the advent of the white man was occupied by the Miamis and Pottawatomies. It was made historic by the early explorers and missionaries who used the Kankakee-St. Joseph River Portage." A few of Mr. Baker's paragraphs should be included in this catalogue:

"Shortly after Easter Sunday, 1675, the sick and disheartened priest, Father Jacques Marquette, left the Indian village of Kaskaskia to return to his beloved St. Ignace by a new route, which many eminent authorities believe to have been via the Kankakee River. In that case it is very probable that he and his two faithful attendants, Pierre Porteret and Jacques, made use of the portage between the Kankakee and St. Joseph Rivers--a carrying place of between four and five miles. The portage landing on the St. Joseph River is two and three-quarters miles northwest of the court house, at South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, and the portage extends in a southwesterly course to three small ponds which were the nearest sources of the Kankakee. The basins of these ponds are still clearly defined.... The earliest mention of this historic route is found in the writings of Father Louis Hennepin, Henry de Tonty and Réné Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who first made use of it ... in December, 1679. We are led to believe, however, that Louis Jolliet, companion of Marquette and co-discoverer of the Mississippi, knew of this portage as early as 1673.

"The portage landing ... is just to the east of the big red barn, on the Miller property, south of the residence, and at the foot of a beautiful ravine declining gently from the high ground. At the water's edge, stretching back at least one hundred feet, is a low sandy terrace of recent formation. The approach to this picturesque ravine is obscure and hard to locate from the river; the view being obstructed by the forest trees. Many of the original trees are still standing ... many red-cedars, the latter evidently being the progeny of a grand old cedar, a stately monarch of the portage landing, which reaches to the height of over sixty feet, with a girth of more than eight feet at its base.... The trunk ... has been covered by the sand and soil washed from above, to a depth of between seven and eight feet.... Recently, June, 1897, the soil around the old cedar was removed and the measurements as stated were made. As the trunk was laid bare ... three great blaze-marks [were found], forming a rude cross, made by a wide-bladed axe, such as were in common use in the French colonies. Here was what we had suspected, one of the witness trees marked no doubt in early days to locate the portage."[84]

Fort St. Joseph was located on the opposite side of the river from a Pottawatomie village, which was on the portage trail. The location of this fort and Indian settlement is never unanimously estimated to have been less than about sixty miles from the mouth of the St. Joseph River; Father Marest wrote Father German from "Cascaskias" November 9, 1712: "... we ascended the river Saint Joseph, in order to make a portage at 30 [20?] leagues from its mouth."[85]

This important route from Illinois to Detroit was first fortified by the building of the earliest "Fort Miami," near the mouth of the St. Josephs of Lake Michigan, by La Salle in 1679. "But this fort," Mr. Reuben Gold Thwaites writes, "was destroyed by La Salle's men in 1680. Father Jean Mermet, then at the river [St. Joseph] mouth, writes La Mathe Cadillac, April 19, 1702, that he proposes to establish a mission 'three journeys,' or about sixty miles up river, 'near a stream [Illinois] which is the source of the Ouabache,' where there is a portage of half a league (_Margry_, v, p. 219). In 1711, Father Chardon had his mission sixty miles above the mouth. By 1712, there appears to have been a French military post at this mission. Charlevoix, in a letter dated 'River St. Joseph, Aug. 16, 1721,' writes, describing his approach to the fort from Lake Michigan: 'You afterward sail up twenty leagues in it [up the St. Josephs River] before you reach the fort, which navigation requires great precaution.'... The evidence is ample, that the fort on the St. Josephs, from about 1712 to its final destruction during the Revolutionary war, guarded the portage between the river of that name and the Kankakee, on the east bank of the St. Josephs, in Indiana, a short distance below the present city of South Bend."[86]

The Kankakee-St. Joseph route was a favorite one for travelers returning from Illinois to the Great Lakes and Canada. The favorite early "outward" route was from the western shore of Lake Michigan into the Illinois River. Here were two courses: by way of either the Calumet or the Chicago River to the Des Plaines branch of the Illinois. The latter portage was best known and most used. Perhaps no one of the western portages varied more than this in length, as on the best authority it is asserted that sometimes no portage was necessary, and at others a portage of nine miles was necessary: "The Chicago--Des Plaines route involved a 'carry' of from four to nine miles, according to the season of the year; in a rainy spring season, it might not be over a mile; and during a freshet, a canoe might be paddled over the entire route, without any portage."[87] When Marquette reached the Des Plaines, known as "Portage River" because it offered a pathway to the Illinois, he was compelled to make a portage of only "half a league."[88] The course of this portage is practically the present route of the famous Drainage Canal which joins the Chicago River with the Des Plaines at Elgin, Illinois.

The most westernly portage from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi was of the greatest importance in the earliest years of white man's exploration. The French were the first explorers, and they were at first barred from Lakes Ontario and Erie--which offered the shortest courses to the Mississippi, via the Ohio--by the ferocious Iroquois; whose hostility Champlain had quickly incurred, toward himself and his people. Driven around, as has been shown,[89] by way of the Ottawa to Georgian Bay, the longest route to the Mississippi became one of the shortest. From Georgian Bay it is a straight course to Green Bay, and so the portage between the Fox and the Wisconsin Rivers became one of the earliest as well as one of the most important in America. By this route the discoverers of the Mississippi were destined to come--for there were many who found and lost this river. First in the line came Radissou and Groseilliers, at the end of that fifth shadowy decade of the seventeenth century. These daring men, possessed of the desire "to travell and see countreys" and "to be knowne w^{th} the remotest people," found the Fox-Wisconsin portage and passed down the Wisconsin to the Mississippi, probably in the spring or early summer of 1659[90]--arriving on that river eleven years before La Salle, and fourteen years before Joliet and Marquette, to whom the discovery of the Mississippi is usually ascribed.

But though these men passed over this route to the discovery of the Mississippi, they were not the first white men to traverse it. Jean Nicolet, the first of Europeans, came over this course in 1634, but did not descend the Wisconsin.[91]

Two score years later the bold missionaries, Joliet and Marquette, entered the Fox River and came to Maskoutens, "the fire Nation." "Here," wrote Marquette, "is the limit of the discoveries which the french have made, for they have not yet gone any farther." Of Radissou and Groseilliers no memory was left among the savages, and of them Marquette had never heard. "No sooner had we arrived," Marquette wrote in his _Journal_, "than we, Monsieur Jollyet and I assembled the elders together; and he told them that he was sent by Monsieur Our Governor to discover New countries, while I was sent by God to Illumine them with the light of the holy Gospel. He told them that, moreover, the sovereign Master of our lives wished to be known by all the Nations; and that in obeying his will I feared not the death to which I exposed myself in voyages so perilous. He informed them that we needed two guides to show us the way; and We gave them a present, by it asking them to grant us the guides. To this they very Civilly consented; and they also spoke to us by means of a present, consisting of a Mat to serve us as a bed during the whole of our voyage. On the following day, the tenth of June two Miamis who were given us as guides embarked with us.... We knew that, at three leagues from Maskoutens, was a River which discharged into Mississippi. We knew also that the direction we were to follow in order to reach it was west-southwesterly. But the road is broken by so many swamps and small lakes that it is easy to lose one's way, especially as the River leading thither is so full of wild oats that it is difficult to find the Channel. For this reason we greatly needed our two guides, who safely Conducted us to a portage of 2,700 paces, and helped us to transport our Canoes to enter That river; ... Thus we left the Waters flowing to Quebeq, 4 or 500 Leagues from here, to float on Those that would thenceforward Take us through strange lands."[92]

By the feet of such undaunted heroes the Fox-Wisconsin portage path was made hallowed ground. But the importance of this route, in the days when Georgian Bay was the entering point of the French into the Great Lakes, did not rapidly diminish; through all pioneer history, when Mackinac and Detroit were the key of the Lakes, this route to the Mississippi was important. For instance, in the fur trade of the West and of Wisconsin in particular, this portage was of utmost moment.[93] In the preceding pages this matter of the fur trade on portages has not been sufficiently suggested; it is, however, a subject on which important and exhaustive histories should be written. The portages were, in numerous instances, the keys of the fur trade.

In the Revolutionary War, the Fox-Wisconsin portage bore a more or less important part in British plans of gaining the alliance of the Indians of the upper Mississippi Basin.[94] The awakening in the Northwest is evidenced by the increasing importance of this pathway in the War of 1812.[95] This was the route of British trade with the Mississippi Indians until the very last.[96] The commercial and economic history of this route, the establishment of Fort Winnebago, the question of government ownership of land, the improvement of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, the Military Road across the portage, the days of the Durhams boats, and the building of the canal make this route more interesting than any other west of Niagara.[97]

It would be a serious omission not to include in this catalogue at least a mention of the portages which completed the line of communication along the chain of the Great Lakes--or from the St. Lawrence across to the extremity of Lake Superior. The importance of the portage from the Ottawa to Lake Nipissing and French River has been fully suggested, in our emphasis of the use of the Ottawa route, by which the French avoided the Iroquois and gained the western lakes. The historic and economic phase of the Niagara River offers a magnificent untouched field for historic study. The series of forts and their varying flags which defended this key of the Lakes; the struggle for their possession; the portage routes here that were of such vital importance to all the West; the earliest systems of transportation around Niagara Falls; the supplementary roundabout routes, such as up Grand River; and finally, the building of the Welland Canal, offer a splendid topic for study and field work. At the extremity of Lake Superior was the Grand Portage, which joined the Great Lakes with Hudson Bay, by way of Pigeon River and the Lake of the Woods. It was first found by Radissou and Groseilliers in 1662, fortified in 1737, and at the beginning of the nineteenth century was "the Headquarters or General Rendezvous, for all who trade in this part of the world."[98]

In concluding this review of portage paths the author finds a final opportunity to offer a plea for the wide study of historic sites and for placing there monuments of some kind for the purposes of identification before it be all too late.

We cannot realize in the slightest degree the great interest that will be felt in our historical beginnings one, two, and three centuries from now, as our nation grows richer and hundreds give themselves up to the study of the past where ten can do so today. It is fair to believe that we cannot realize how precious every relic and every accurate piece of information--every monument and tablet--will seem when at last the days of Braddock and Johnson, Washington and Clark and Wayne are lost in three hundred years of change and evolution. Therefore we cannot fully realize the precious duty that falls upon the present generation--and upon us particularly.

The reason is evident: within a generation there will not be left in our land a single son of one of the genuine pioneers of, for instance, New York or Ohio. Even those of the second generation remember with really little distinctness and accuracy the days of which their fathers told; often their stories are entirely unreliable. This very fact is in itself alarming, and is it not then the duty of all interested persons to secure immediately every item of information from such of that second generation as are found to be accurate and clear? In every State there are a hundred historic sites for which, in time, people generally will be inquiring. We speak easily of Fort Necessity and Fort Bull and Fort Laurens--but where are they? The sites of these historic embankments are known today, but of the New York and Pennsylvania sites doubts are beginning to pass current. The location of Fort Laurens--the first American fort built west of the Ohio River--is pretty definitely known. It is fair to say that in a generation or two the spots, if left unmarked, will never be located correctly. A small stone, with a plain legend, costing a mere trifle, would insure the future against such a misfortune.

The subject of portage paths naturally suggests the matter of locating historic sites and marking them for the reason that so many such points were on these portages. A mere catalogue of the forts mentioned in preceding pages prove this conclusively. Add to these the mission houses, trading stations and treaty houses here erected and we have a sum total of vitally important historic sites which could be equalled only by looking to the river valleys. And very frequently indeed the real significance of many a fort at a river's mouth lay in the fact that at that river's head lay a strategic carrying place. What else did Fort Defiance, Fort Venango, Fort Oswego, Fort Niagara, Fort Miami on the St. Joseph mean?

These portage routes should be presented to all local and State historical societies as important fields of study in the very immediate present if the many historic sites here are to be correctly marked. They are easy fields of investigation because as a rule a great amount of geographic lore is treasured up in a small compass; many a portage, like the Oneida portage at Rome, New York, was not over a mile in length; yet here are the sites of at least half a dozen forts, some of them of world-wide renown. Take the famous portage at Fort Wayne, Indiana, from the Maumee (St. Mary) to the Wabash (Little River); the field here is of great importance yet the ground to be covered is exceedingly limited. A few dollars invested in slight monuments could now establish markers along this route with some degree of accuracy and conscientious satisfaction. Later on this will not be possible. Each year lessens the probability of accuracy, takes from the neighborhood one and another of the aged men who would be of assistance, changes more and more the face of the landscape--in short tends to rob all future students of something of real value that we might confer upon them.

It may be due to a lack of antiquarian enthusiasm on the part of the present writer, but he is strongly of the opinion that our historical societies are losing an invaluable amount of information and data by not seizing the advantage of the advice of pioneers' sons who are now living concerning the location of historic sites; not a little money is being expended here and there on archæological research which would produce exactly as fruitful returns a generation from now as it does today. The stone pipes and hammers will be found in as good condition in 1925 as 1903 but there are a hundred important sites that can never be marked correctly after a score of men now over seventy years of age have passed away. At a recent centennial celebration on the site of one of the most important forts in the entire West the old fortress was reconstructed with life-like accuracy under scholarly direction. It was necessary, however, because of inundations of the neighboring river, to draw in one of the bastions. It will not be many years before the entire topography of that site will be altered by the same destructive force, unless it is stayed, and when the second centennial of the day when Mad Anthony Wayne unfurled his flag in the face of the British from the walls of Fort Defiance is celebrated, there is a question whether the site of that fort will be above or below the river's tide.

A pig-sty at Fort Recovery, Ohio, marks the Fort Recovery angle of the famous Greenville Treaty line. Underneath the pen lies the stone which marks the angle and the site of that historic fort and, consequently, St. Clair's battle-ground. The line runs twenty-one miles westward to the pillar raised on Loramie Creek, the historic site of the old French trading post in 40° 16['] north latitude 7° 15[''] west longitude; at the other angle on the Muskingum River the site of Fort Laurens is also a matter of record. In this way, it is true, many points of interest have a definite location but this is true in only a few cases. The writer, recently returning from a tour through Illinois on George Rogers Clark's old route to the conquest of Vincennes took his notes at once to Madison, Wisconsin to revise them from the correspondence carried on by Lyman C. Draper, a generation ago, with the oldest residents of Illinois concerning Clark's route. The remarkable contrast between testimony obtainable now and that secured a generation ago could not have been more strikingly impressive. Indecision, indefiniteness, inaccuracy grow more and more pronounced as the days draw by and an actual experience such as this compels one interested in our country's development to cry out against permitting more time to be lost.

Pennsylvania has set a good example in forwarding a minute study of her frontier forts, two large volumes having been published by that state on the subject. There are signs that there is an awakening interest in definitely locating and marking historic sites. It need not be an expensive work. It is certainly an important one. And the courses of the important carrying places should be early considered.


[1] For an account of the portages in the dry season on the Scioto see _Historic Highways of America_, vol. ii, pp. 55-60.

[2] _The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. xxxvii, pp. 211-213.

[3] _Id._, pp. 65-67.

[4] _Id._, vol. xlix, pp. 47-49.

[5] _Id._, pp. 261-263.

[6] _Id._, vol. viii, pp. 75-77.

[7] _Id._, vol. xxxix, pp. 47-49.

[8] _Id._, vol. xii, pp. 117-121.

[9] As outlined in _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, ch. iii. This route of the French to the greater lakes took them away from the Ohio River and long delayed their occupation of the Allegheny and Ohio valleys.

[10] Hinsdale's _Old Northwest_, pp. 34-35.

[11] _Id._, p. 36.

[12] Céloron on his journey to the Ohio in 1749 did not cross Lake Ontario by the same route pursued by his Indian retinue (Céloron's Journal, in Darlington's _Fort Pitt_, p. 11).

[13] William E. Dodge's _Old New York_, p. 36.

[14] For a touching instance, see _Jesuit Relations ana Allied Documents_, vol. lxvi, p. 281.

[15] _The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lxix, p. 159.

[16] _Documentary History of New York_, vol. ii, p. 868.

[17] Sylvester's_ Northern New York_, p. 289; Céloron's Journal in Darlington's _Fort Pitt_, p. 12.

[18] Sir William Johnson's _Journal_, October 1, 1761; cf. Severance's _Old Trails of the Niagara Frontier_, p. 40.

[19] These names were copied from Nolin's "Carte du Canada" (1756) and Bellin's "Partie Occidentale de la Nouvelle France" (1755), both in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

[20] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. xl, p. 219. The St. Lawrence proved less easily navigated when it became better known.

[21] _Id._, note 10 (page 257).

[22] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lxix, p. 161.

[23] Described in _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, pp. 74-78.

[24] Sparks's _Writings of Washington_, vol. ii, p. 21.

[25] Royal Orders to Braddock, _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iv, pp. 47, 48.

[26] Dunn's _Indiana_, p. 50.

[27] _American State Papers_, vol. iv, p. 525.

[28] _Id._, pp. 526-527.

[29] _Id._, p. 562.

[30] Sylvester's _Northern New York_, p. 279.

[31] Hinsdale's _Old Northwest_, p. 48; Benton's _The Wabash Trade Route_, p. 15.

[32] Dunn's _Indiana_, p. 47.

[33] _United States Statutes at Large_, vol. ii, p. 173.

[34] _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, ch. vi.

[35] _A Monograph of Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick_, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, vol. v, sec. ii, pp. 213-357.

[36] _A Monograph of Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick_, pp. 233-239.

[37] _The History of the District of Maine_, p. 32.

[38] _Crown MSS._, cxix, 25.

[39] _Board of Trade Maps_, vol. 24, no. 45.

[40] _Add. MSS._, 21, 686, pp. 47-54.

[41] _The Century Magazine_, vol. lxv, no. 4 (February, 1903).

[42] Belknap: _History of New Hampshire_, vol. ii, p. 290.

[43] _Id._, p. 291.

[44] _Id._, p. 294.

[45] _Id._, p. 303.

[46] _Id._, p. 305.

[47] _Id._, p. 305, note.

[48] _Board of Trade Maps_, vol. 24, no. 51.

[49] _Crown Maps_ (British Museum), vol. cxxi, no. 18.

[50] _Board of Trade Maps_, case 11, no. 29.

[51] _Crown Maps_ (British Museum), vol. cxxi, no. 11

[52] _Board of Trade Maps_, case 11, no. 28.

[53] _Crown Maps_ (British Museum), vol. cxxi, no. 16.

[54] Sylvester's _Northern New York_, ch. xxxiii.

[55] _Northern New York_, pp. 275-281.

[56] _A Review of the Military Operations in North America_ (London, 1757), pp. 42-43.

[57] See _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, pp. 71-73.

[58] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lxix, p. 159.

[59] _Id._, p. 161.

[60] Céloron's Journal in Darlington's _Fort Pitt_, p. 12.

[61] _The Old Portage Road_; published in the Fredonia (N. Y.) _Censor_, January, 1891.

[62] See _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, pp. 74-79.

[63] Affidavit of Stephen Coffin, _Colonial Records State of New York_, vol. vi, p. 834.

[64] Taylor's _The Old Portage Road_, Fredonia _Censor_, January, 1891.

[65] For a map of this portage see Hulbert's _Red-Men's Roads_, p. 33.

[66] Croghan's Journal, _Historic Highways of America_, vol. ii., pp. 55-62; Bonnécamp's Journal, _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lxix, pp. 183-191.

[67] "The Wabash Trade Route in the Development of the Old Northwest," _Johns Hopkins University Studies_, series xxi, nos. 1-2 (January-February, 1903).

[68] Fox-Wisconsin, Chicago-Illinois, St. Joseph-Kankakee, St. Joseph-Wabash and Maumee-Wabash portage routes.

[69] Margry: _Découvertes des français dans L'Amérique Septentrionale_, vol. ii, p. 296.

[70] _Id._, vol. i, pp. 377-78; Fiske's _Discovery of America_, vol. ii, p. 534.

[71] _Historic Highways of America_, vol. vi, p. 164.

[72] For references to proposed routes by land and water against Fort Detroit and Fort Pitt see Butterfield's _Washington-Irvine Correspondence_, pp. 92, 110, 118, 121, 140 (note), 354-55; _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, pp. 128, 130; _Irvine Papers_ (MSS.), Wisconsin Historical Society, vol. ii, A A. pp. 66, 67; Washington MS. _Journal_, September 1784 (State Department).

[73] _Historic Highways of America_, vol. ii, p. 107.

[74] Irvine-Washington, February 7, 1782 (_Washington-Irvine Correspondence_, p. 92).

[75] The following are notes on and extracts from Hamilton's _Journal_ preserved at Harvard University.

[76] Little River.

[77] "The Beaver are never molested at this place by the Traders or Indians, and soon repair their dam, which is a most serviceable work upon this difficult communication."--Account of the Expedition of Lieut.-Gov. Hamilton, _Michigan Pioneer Collections_, vol. ix, p. 493. "The Beavers had worked hard for us, but we were obliged to break down their dam to let the boats pass...."--Hamilton to Haldimand, November 1, _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, p. 181.

[78] Wabash.

[79] Under this date Hamilton wrote to Haldimand from "Camp at Petite Riviere," concerning the portage path from the Maumee to Little River, as follows: "This carrying place is free from any obstructions, but what the carelessness & ignorance of the French have left, & would leave from Generation to Generation. An intelligent person at a small expense might make it as fine a road as any within 20 miles of London. The Woods are beautiful, Oak, Ash, Beech, Nutwood, very clear & of a great growth ... in a ridge near the road I found a sea fossil, to find Marine productions on this hauteur des terres is to my mind more curious than their being found in the Alps--there are no mountains in view from Detroit to this place so that these appearances cannot readily be accounted for from volcanoes of which there is no trace to be observed."--_Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, p. 179.

[80] Aboite River, Allen County, Indiana.

[81] One of the most curious of errors. This river was called by the Indians Eel River, and is the name translated by the French, _Rivière l'Anguille_. Hamilton mistook this for _l'Anglais_, which name he used. Cf. Imlay's _America_, p. 402, where the name is spelled _Longuille_; _American State Papers_, vol. iv, p. 132; Gamelin's _Journal_, _Id._, p. 93.

[82] _Michigan Pioneer Collections_, vol. ix, p. 409.

[83] _The St. Joseph-Kankakee Portage_, Northern Indiana Historical Publications, no. 1.

[84] _Id._

[85] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lxvi, p. 285; cf. _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, p. 179.

[86] _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, pp. 178-79; cf. _Michigan Pioneer Collections_, vol. ix, p. 368; _Magazine of Western History_, vol. iii, p. 447.

[87] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lix, note 41.

[88] _Id._, p. 161.

[89] _Historic Highways of America_, vol. iii, ch. iii.

[90] Butterfield, in _Magazine of Western History_, v, pp. 51, 721-24; _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, p. 66, note.

[91] Butterfield's _Discovery of the Northwest_, p. 67, ff.

[92] _Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, vol. lix, pp. 105, 107.

[93] _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, pp. 223, 387; Turner's _Indian Trade of Wisconsin_.

[94] _Wisconsin Historical Collections_, vol. xi, pp. 148, 164.

[95] _Id._, pp. 262, 292, 300, 302, 312, 323, 328.

[96] _Id._, p. 337.

[97] _Id._, vol. vii, p. 371; vol. x, p. 222; vol. xi, pp. 183, 361, 399, 403, 404, 409-15; vol. xii, pp. 331, 400.

[98] Harmon's _Journal_ (Andover, 1820) p. 41.

* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. Obvious errors in spelling and punctuation have been corrected except for narratives and letters included in this text.

3. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the main text body.

4. Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest paragraph break.

5. Certain words use an oe ligature in the original.

6. Carat character (^) followed by a single letter or a set of letters in curly brackets is indicative of subscript in the original book.

7. For longtitude and latitude, the minutes and seconds are placed as single quotes within brackets. For example: 38° 47['] 20[''].