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Brodhead's Road

Milestones Vol 27. No. 1

By Denver Walton

In the year 1778, a fledgling nation was struggling through the trauma of birth, her unprepared, desperate army perilously close to defeat at the hands of a bitter enemy. Conditions were most severe in the wilderness of the Ohio Valley. Here in the hills that would one day become Beaver County, a few determined pioneers fought for their liberty against almost constant attacks by the savage Indian allies of the British.

The furthest outpost of civilization was the village of Pittsburgh and its fortress at the forks of the Ohio, built 20 years earlier during the French and Indian War. A highly controversial plan was proposed by Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh, Commander of the Western Department.

The frontier could be better defended, McIntosh felt, if a second fort were constructed on the North side of the Ohio, at the mouth of the Beaver. Fort McIntosh was built, despite much opposition, and it was named for the man who had proposed it, and who became its first commander. To supply the fort, a road was cut through the wilderness from Fort Pitt.

The road was not named at first, but in successive years, it became known as Brodhead's Road. Colonel Daniel Brodhead was a rival of General McIntosh and one of his most bitter critics. Shortly after the completion of Fort McIntosh and the supply road, Colonel Brodhead replaced the General in command of the post.

Used extensively during the fort's ten year history, the road continued in use as Beaver County's first public highway as settlers moved in and the population began to grow.

The old road, a narrow ledge along the hillside, near Center's Sylvan Crest neighborhood, can be clearly seen and traced.

In the years following 1778, the new nation won independence and went on to bigger things - - not in the least, the American Bicentennial celebration.