"Hutchins' Courses of the Ohio River, 1766, is the first known hydrographic survey of the river. Describing each course, it gives the direction, the time required for navigation, the speed of the current, and other important details of these separate stretches. The data Hutchins secured during an expedition down the river which started from Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh), June 18, 1766. Its main purpose was to conciliate and to build up trade with the Indians of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and George Croghan, the well-known Pennsylvania Indian trader was in command. Accompanying him were Captain Harry Gordon and Ensign Thomas Hutchins, the two of them under orders from General Gage to map the courses of the Ohio, and to take the latitude and longitude of the important points along the route. George Morgan, of the Philadelphia firm of Baynton, Morgan, and Company, went along too, with large supplies of goods for the Indian trade. Also, there were about one hundred Iroquois and a considerable number of Delawares and Shawnees, the entire party with its baggage filling seventeen canoes.

Hutchins' surveys were of course the basis of Captain Harry Gordon's Map of the Ohio River, the first really accurate map of the Ohio with its main courses in detail, and its principal tributaries.

One of the practical means through which this influence was exerted was Cramer's Navigator or the Trader's Useful Guide in Navigating the Monongahela, Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The lengthy title is sufficient indication of the scope of this early Western Baedeker, which was soon used by the immigrant even more extensively than by the trader. The earliest editions merely gave printed directions with regard to the channel, noting the chief bars and the like and the islands. But in later editions there were detailed sectional maps of the Ohio River which were based directly upon Huchins' Courses and Gordon's Map.

Edited by Beverley W. Bond, Jr.
Curator, Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio,
and Professor of History, University of Cincinnati.
Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio. 1942.
Pages 12-14.

 

 

 

l Forks of the Ohio