Ohio History Journal

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Professor of American History, Marietta College; President of the

Ohio Valley Historical Association; author of "Historic High-

ways of America," "The Ohio River," etc.


The mountain ranges of this Continent generally trend from

North to South. The greatest rivers trend in the same general

direction, particularly the St. Lawrence, Mississippi and Hudson,

all of which were to play an important role as avenues of ap-

proach for the races which fell heir to the Continent. But the

Europeans, landing on our Atlantic coast were compelled to ex-

plore and occupy the land along East and West lines, the social

movement in general cutting straight across the general trend of

the greater mountain ranges and river valleys.

An interesting result followed. So far as actually playing a

definite part in the western expansion of America is concerned,

the lesser streams were of greater importance than many of the

larger ones, and one cannot have a very clear understanding

of the development of our Nation without knowing something

of the place and power of the Juniata, Mohawk, Wood Creek,

Connemaugh, Watauga, Holston, Fox and Wisconsin rivers.

Said Edward Everett in 1835: "The destinies of the country, if

I may use a language which sounds rather mystical but which

every one, I believe, understands, - the destinies of the country

run east and west". At the moment, when the building of the

Boston and Albany Railroad was under discussion, the Housa-

tonic was of more importance to New England than the Con-

necticut; if Boston nails were to continue their battle success-

fully against Pittsburg nails in the West the Housatonic would

be responsible.

Perhaps this introductory word will bring out as plainly as

possible the one great important fact concerning the Ohio River -

its position on the Continent. It paralleled the "destinies of the