George Washington's 7 Trips to Pittsburgh Were Certainly Eventful

A look back at our nation’s first president’s many visits. Don’t worry — we’ll save the best (and first) for last.



George Washington apparently had a fondness for our part of the world, visiting at least seven times in the 18th century. Here’s a quick rundown; we’ll save the best (and first) for last.

ON HIS SECOND TRIP: In 1754, Washington helped kick off the French and Indian War when he provoked a skirmish with French soldiers. He and his men were subsequently attacked (and many of his soldiers slaughtered) at the hastily built Fort Necessity in Fayette County.

ON HIS THIRD TRIP: As the war continued, he returned with Gen. Edward Braddock and colonial troops in 1755, bound for Fort Duquesne at the Point. His group was surprised and soundly defeated near what is now Braddock borough at the Battle of Monongahela.

ON HIS FOURTH TRIP: Washington was with Gen. John Forbes when British soldiers built a road across Pennsylvania in 1758 to convince the French at Fort Duquesne to get out of town. The outnumbered French fled.

ON HIS FIFTH TRIP: He wasn’t just a soldier. Washington was a farmer and investor, too, and he owned real estate in the area, including acres near Canonsburg and what is now Perryopolis. In 1770, he stopped in Connellsville, visited Fort Pitt, dropped in on a friend in Etna (then called Pine Creek) and took a canoe ride down the Ohio.

ON HIS SIXTH TRIP: In 1784, Washington did some research for Virginia Gov. Thomas Jefferson, who wanted him to investigate whether a canal linking the Potomac River system to the Ohio might be feasible.

ON HIS SEVENTH TRIP: In 1794, Washington — then President — led a force of 12,000 American soldiers as far as Bedford, when he found it necessary to put an end to the Whiskey Rebellion. This was the “first and only time a sitting American president led troops in the field,” according to historian Joseph Ellis.

But George Washington’s first visit, when he was only 21, may be the most remarkable. He volunteered to do some frontier diplomacy with the French, who were building forts in this part of the world.

ON HIS FIRST TRIP: Washington was a surveyor and a diplomatic messenger, coming first to the Forks of the Ohio — which he thought wonderfully suitable for a fort. After meeting with natives and brave residents of this wild territory, he and a small group set off in wretched November weather to the French outpost at Venango and then to Fort LeBoeuf, near Erie. The French weren’t intimidated by this young colonial major with his message from the British powers.

On his way back in late December — with poor weather and horses in sad shape — Washington and explorer Christopher Gist set off on foot, eventually trying to cross the icy Allegheny on a crude raft. The raft didn’t make it. Floundering in frigid waters, the men swam to a now-vanished island near the Lawrenceville shore (not the island later renamed Washington’s Landing) and lived to tell the tale.

Washington reported to Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, who surprised the young surveyor by having “The Journal Of Major George Washington” printed for the public. It was widely read, and his engaging tale of travel, diplomacy and adventure did more to make the young man a noted leader than any legendary cherry tree. 

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Family-run farms adapt in multiple ways in order to thrive in western Pennsylvania.
Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg Brown knows anything is possible for his beloved Buccos. His career has had its share of surprise turns as well.
Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere make SMOKE barbeque taqueria one of Pittsburgh's go-to restaurants.
Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi is determined to make the Panthers believe in themselves and their program.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

You Might Want This Newly Signed Penguin to Read to Your Kids

You Might Want This Newly Signed Penguin to Read to Your Kids

The newest member of the Pittsburgh Penguins has an unusual side-gig.
Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

Steelers President Admits 'I Stole Joe Greene's Car'

What's equally surprising is that it took a decade before Greene ever found out about it.
Watch: Korean Broadcaster's Epic Call of Kang's Winning Homer

Watch: Korean Broadcaster's Epic Call of Kang's Winning Homer

Most of us won't understand a word of it, but it really doesn't matter.
King of 'Donkey Kong' to be Crowned in Pittsburgh

King of 'Donkey Kong' to be Crowned in Pittsburgh

ReplayFX, a massive video-game gathering, will fill the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this weekend with more than 700 playable arcade games and pinball machines.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Family-run farms adapt in multiple ways in order to thrive in western Pennsylvania.
Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg Brown knows anything is possible for his beloved Buccos. His career has had its share of surprise turns as well.
Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere make SMOKE barbeque taqueria one of Pittsburgh's go-to restaurants.
Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi is determined to make the Panthers believe in themselves and their program.
PittGirl's Reliable & Delightful Crash Course on Pittsburgh

PittGirl's Reliable & Delightful Crash Course on Pittsburgh

She shares the truth about everything from driving technique to Terrible Towel etiquette for anyone new to the 'Burgh.
Top Dentists 2015

Top Dentists 2015

The Pittsburgh region's 346 premier dentists in 9 specialties.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module