The Cuyahoga - Tuscarawas Portage

The present Portage Path is only a part of the original Portage Trail, which ran from the Cuyahoga River to the Tuscarawas, which, in the old days, was a regularly used path for the Shawnees, Ottawa, Seneca, Erie, Mingoe, and Delaware.  Because of its major importance, it was mentioned in even the earliest treaties between the settlers and the natives, which shows how it is therefore an ancient and prominent landmark in the history of our country. The first natives who lived near here were the Erie who occupied a wide strip of territory along Lake Erie in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and what is now Summit County was part of their own territory. Interestingly, the French did send explorers to the west and south, who claimed Ohio as their own; It wasn't actively disputed by the British until about 1745; before then, it may be said that it was French territory. George Washington knew of this portage, and he acknowledged it in a letter to Benjamin Harrison, who was then Governor of Virginia. He said, "It has long been my decided opinion that the shortest, easiest, and least expensive communication with the invaluable and extensive country back of us would be by one or both of the rivers of this State... Nor am I singular in this opinion..." In the treaty at Fort Stanwix, New York, on October 22, 1784, the Iroquois ceded their claims on the lands that lay north of Ohio and what was east of the Mississippi to the New U.S. Government, yet not surprisingly, the Ohio tribes refused to recognize the right of the Iroquois to bargain in place of them. In Article IV of the Ordinance of 1787, it states, "...The navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and Saint Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways, and forever free as well to the inhabitants of said territory, as to the citizens of the United States and those of any other States that may be admitted into the confederacy, without any tax, impost, or duty therefore." Of course, at the time the Northwest Ordinance was passed, the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas were well-known navigable waters and were, especially with the portage, covered by its stipulations; and even without any Congressional action to the contrary, we can merely assume that they still are. The Navigability of the Tuscarawas River used to be very quick, chock full of rushing river water, yet later on, even the quite small children weren't even able to wet their ankles, for the Tuscarawas was robbed of its own water by the Ohio Canal. The Cuyahoga itself, however, all ran northward into Lake Erie, with its defining characteristic being the "U" shape of the river. In general, both rivers once carried as much as four times the volume of water that they do at the present time. The New Portage, which is now Northeast Barberton, is, strangely, the oldest section of Barberton, with the original New Portage situated on the Tuscarawas near the area where State Street crosses Wooster Road in Barberton. In the New Portage, by 1819, or not too much time before, there was a surplus in many items including salt, flour, and whiskey. This picture become clear that it was more practical to divert from the original Path at some point lying in the northern shore of Summit Lake, and strike toward the point where the Tuscarawas bends to the south and this area came to be known as New Portage. In 1807, Portage County formed, and it included all of what is today Summit, Median, Portage, Lorain, and part of the Cuyahoga counties, and it claimed its name from the fact that it held the Portage within. In Ohio, there is a watershed which causes a part of the water to flow north and the other south; in Akron, the divide begins near Route 18, West Market Street, and the ridge overlooking Summit Lake & extending past Waterloo Road. Nowadays, today's streets and highways allow use to follow along with the Portage Path by car merely by following the Native American Arrowhead markers along the path. Because of this canal, many traders and businesses were attracted to this small region of space, which in the following years has developed a great manufacturing region.


Learn More