Monday 19th. The Delawares set of with the Canoe and our Horses not arriving, the day appeard exceeding long & tedious. Upon conversing with Nicholson I found he had been two or three times to Fort Chartres at the Illinois, and got from him the following Acct. of the Lands between this & that; & upon the Shawna River;1 on which he had been a Hunting.
The Lands down the Ohio grow more & more level as you approach the Falls, and about 150 Miles below them, the Country appears quite Flat, & exceeding rich. On the Shawna River (which comes into the Ohio 400 Miles below the Falls2 & about 1100 from Pittsburg) up which he had hunted 300 & more Miles the Lands are exceeding Level, rich, fine, but a good deal intermixed with Cain or Reed, which mig⟨ht⟩ render them difficult to clear; that game of all kinds was to be found here in the greatest abundance, especially Buffalo—that from Fort Chartres to Pitts burg by Land, is co⟨m⟩puted 800 Miles; & in travelling th⟨ro⟩ the Country from that place he f⟨ound⟩ the Soil very rich—the Ground exceeding level to O. Post3 (a French s⟨ettle⟩ment) & from Opost to the Lower Sha⟨w⟩na Town on Scioto equally flat—that he passd through large Planes 30 Miles in length without a Tree except little Islands of Wood—th⟨at⟩ in these Planes thousands & 10,000⟨s⟩ of Buffalo may be seen feeding. That the distance from Fort Cha⟨rtres⟩ to Opost is about 240 Miles & the Country not very well Waterd—from Opost to the lower Shawna Town about 300 more abounding in good springs & Rivulets—that the remainder of the way to Fort Pitt is Hilly, & the Hills larger as you approach the Fort tho the L[an]d in general is also good.
At Fort Pitt I got the distances from place to place down the Ohio as taken ⟨by⟩ one Mr. Hutchings4 & which are as follows—wt. some corrections of mine.
|From Fort Pitt to||Miles|
|Big Bever Creek||W||29¼|
|Racoon Creek||GW E||34|
|Little Bever Creek||W||44|
|Big Stony Creek||GW W||66|
|Buffalo Creek or Sculp C[ree]k||GW E||78|
|Second cross Creeks||GW||84|
|Weeling or split Island C[ree]k||GW E||94|
|Sculp Creek||GW W||100|
|Path to Redstone||GW E||108|
|Pipe Creek||GW W||110|
|Cut Creek||GW E||118|
|Broken Timber Creek||GW W||123|
|2d. Broken Timber C[ree]k||GW W||125|
|Muddy Creek||GW E||134|
|Beging. of the long reach||137|
|End of Ditto||155|
|Bull Creek||GW E||160|
|A Pretty large C[ree]k on the West||178|
|Creek with fallen Timber at the Mouth||E||230|
|A sm[al]l Creek on the West & beging. of Great Bent||E||236|
|Another Sm[al]l C[ree]k on the East just above a Gut||E||241|
|Rapid at the point of the Great Bent||245|
|The distance by Hutchings is|
|Big Sandy Creek||E||321|
|Big Buffalo Lick7—A Mile Eastward of the River||W||390|
|Large Island divided by a gravelly Creek||410½|
|Little Mineamie River8||W||492¼|
|Great Mineamie River9||W||527½|
|Where the Elephants Bones were found10||E||560¼|
|To where the low Country begins||837¾|
|Beging. of the 5 Islands||875¼|
|Large River on the East side||902¼|
|Verry large Islands in the middle of the River||960¼|
|Big Rock, & Cave on the Westside13||1042¼|
|Mouth of Ohio17||1164|
The Distances from For Pitt to the Mouth of the Great Kanhawa are set down agreeable to my own Computation, but from thence to the Mouth of River Ohio are strictly according to Hutchingss. Acct.—which Acct. I take to be erroneous inasmuch as it appears that the Miles in the upper part of the River are very long, & those towards the Canhawa short, which I attribute to his setting of in a falling fresh & running slower as they proceeded on.
The Letters E and W signifie wch. side of the River the respective Waters come in on, that is, whether on the East or West side.
1. The Cumberland River, flowing through Tennessee and Kentucky.
2. The Falls of the Ohio at Louisville, Ky., were formed by a limestone ledge reaching across the river, which dropped some 26 feet over a distance of 3 miles.
3. Ouabache or Wabash Post, later Vincennes, Ind.
4. Thomas Hutchins (1730–1789), a native of Monmouth County, N.J., served in the Pennsylvania provincial forces during the French and Indian War. During his military service he acquired a knowledge of engineering and surveying. Around 1762 he was commissioned an ensign in the British army and as assistant engineer took part in the 1764 Bouquet expedition against the Shawnee and Delaware. In 1766 he accompanied George Croghan, Capt. Harry Gordon, and trader George Morgan on a trip through the Ohio and Mississippi valleys (see bond description begins Beverly W. Bond, Jr., ed. The Courses of the Ohio River taken by Lt. T. Hutchins Anno 1766 and Two Accompanying Maps. Cincinnati, 1942. description ends , 12–13; Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies description begins Newton D. Mereness, ed. Travels in the American Colonies. New York, 1916. description ends ). In 1781 he was appointed geographer to the United States, and after the war he served as a commissioner to run the boundary between Virginia and Pennsylvania. He supervised the survey of the western lands ceded to the United States under the Ordinance of 1785. His major works were A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina (London, 1778) and An Historical Narrative and Topographical Description of Louisiana and West-Florida (Philadelphia, 1784). For an account of Hutchins’s career, see tregle description begins Thomas Hutchins. An Historical Narrative and Topographical Description of Louisiana, and West-Florida. A Facsimile Reproduction of the 1784 Edition. Introduction and index by Joseph George Tregle, Jr. Gainesville, Fla., 1968. description ends , v-xliv.
It is uncertain what version of Hutchins’s computations of distance upon the Ohio GW used. The Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina was not published until 1778 and in any event the distances given by Hutchins in that work vary considerably from GW’s version (see hutchins description begins Thomas Hutchins. A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina, Comprehending the Rivers Ohio, Kenhawa, Sioto, Cherokee, Wabash, Illinois, Missisippi, &c . . .. London, 1778. description ends , appendix). Nor do the distances compare with those given in the appendix to a work commonly attributed to Hutchins: An Historical Account of the Expedition against the Ohio Indians in the Year MDCCLXIV under the Command of Henry Bouquet, Esq. (Philadelphia, 1765, reprinted London, 1766), 68. It is possible that GW may have seen copies of Hutchins’s reports, submitted periodically to Gen. Thomas Gage (see, for example, gage papers description begins Clarence Edwin Carter, comp. and ed. The Correspondence of General Thomas Gage with the Secretaries of State, 1763–1775. 2 vols. 1931–33. Reprint. Hamden, Conn., 1969. description ends , 1:309–10, 347). It seems likely that GW may have had access to one of the versions of the table of distances appended to the widely circulated journal kept by Capt. Harry Gordon on his trip to the west in 1766. Gordon was accompanied by Hutchins, and Hutchins may well have compiled the table. The entries for points beyond the Great Kanawha agree substantially with the table appended to Gordon’s journal (see pownall description begins Thomas Pownall. A Topographical Description of the Dominions of the United States of America. Edited by Lois Mulkearn. Pittsburgh, 1949. description ends , 166; Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies description begins Newton D. Mereness, ed. Travels in the American Colonies. New York, 1916. description ends , 488–89).
5. From this point GW’s table substantially agrees with that appended to the Gordon journal, but several fractions of miles are dropped from the last entries.
6. The Scioto River flows into the Ohio near Portsmouth, Ohio. The Lower Shawnee Town was opposite the mouth of the Scioto.
7. Big Buffalo Lick was probably located along Salt Lick Creek, which flows into the Ohio River at present-day Vanceburg, Kentucky.
8. Little Miami River flows into the Ohio at East Cincinnati.
9. Great Miami River enters the Ohio in the extreme southwestern part of Ohio.
10. Big Bone Lick, Boone County, Ky., was so called from the large quantity of fossilized mammoth bones found by early explorers in the area. Christopher Gist visited the area in 1750–51 and sent back one of the teeth to the Ohio Company. He was informed that “about seven Years ago these Teeth and Bones of three large Beasts (one of which was somewhat smaller than the other two) were found in a salt Lick or Spring upon a small Creek which runs into the S Side of the Ohio, about 15 M below the Mouth of the great Miamee River . . . . The Rib Bones of the largest of these Beasts were eleven Feet long, and the Skull Bone six feet wide, across the Forehead, & the other Bones in Proportion” (gist description begins William M. Darlington, ed. Christopher Gist’s Journals with Historical, Geographical and Ethnological Notes and Biographies of his Contemporaries. Pittsburgh, 1893. description ends , 57). See also hutchins description begins Thomas Hutchins. A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina, Comprehending the Rivers Ohio, Kenhawa, Sioto, Cherokee, Wabash, Illinois, Missisippi, &c . . .. London, 1778. description ends , 11.
11. The Kentucky River flows into the Ohio at Carrollton, Ky.
12. The Wabash River joins the Ohio at the southwest corner of Indiana.
13. This may be a reference to Cave-in-Rock on the Illinois shore of the Ohio River, later infamous as a headquarters for river pirates (see baldwin description begins Leland D. Baldwin. The Keelboat Age on Western Waters. Pittsburgh, 1941. description ends , 119–24).
14. Cumberland River.
15. Now called the Tennessee River.
16. Fort Massac, originally Fort Ascension, was built by the French in 1757 and abandoned in 1764. It was “120 miles below the mouth of the Wabash, and eleven miles below the mouth of the Cherokee River” (pownall description begins Thomas Pownall. A Topographical Description of the Dominions of the United States of America. Edited by Lois Mulkearn. Pittsburgh, 1949. description ends , 161–62).
17. The Ohio River joins the Mississippi at Cairo, Ill.