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Seven Ranges Scout Reservation

The Land Ordinance of 1785 laid the foundation for the first Rectangular Survey System in the United States. George Washington sent Thomas Hutchins to survey the part of the Ohio Territory on the southern part of Seven Ranges Scout Reservation.

In September 1783, Hutchins began his survey of the Geographer’s Line, running west from the present site of East Liverpool. He then divided the territory into seven columns, or ranges of land, each six miles wide, extending south to the Ohio River. These became know as the Seven Ranges, and gave our reservation its name.

Its Origins and Place in the History of the Northwest Territory

The Point of Beginning for Hutchins’ survey was the intersection of the Ohio River and the western boundary of Pennsylvania, near the present site of East Liverpool. He laid out an east-west baseline called the Geographer’s Line, which generally followed the old Indian Great Trail. Columns of land, called ranges, were extended south to the Ohio River. These were divided into 6 mile square townships. Alternate townships were further subdivided into 36 1-mile square sections containing 640 acres each. One section of each township was saved, not sold, to provide money to support schools. Many of today’s older roads and even city blocks follow section lines, which is why they seem so straight. The name of our reservation refers to the Seven Ranges that Hutchins surveyed; “Hutch’s Trail” is named for him.

Our present counties are made up of 16 townships, generally square with the exception of boundaries which follow long established trails, creeks or river beds. This whole southeastern section of the future state of Ohio surveyed by Thomas Hutchins, was the first area to use the rectangular survey system in the Continental United States.

The northern border of Seven Ranges Scout Reservation is not far from the eastward projection of the Greenville Treaty Line. The treaty was signed after general “Mad” Anthony Wayne defeated the Miami Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timber near Toledo in 1794. It became the boundary between the white settlers and the remaining Indians in northern Ohio.

With both the British and French competing for trade and land in the New World, war seemed certain. In 1753, a young surveyor named George Washington was sent from Virginia to warn the French to leave their forts. With Christopher Gist as a guide, Washington traveled to Fort LeBoef on the Allegheny River, where the commander politely refused his demand. The French were eventually defeated in the French and Indian War that followed, and had to give up all of their land claims in North America.

Colonists still had to contend with hostile Indians and with a government they considered too far away to appreciate their problems. The American Revolution in the Ohio country consisted mostly of skirmishes with the Indians. The only Revolutionary War-era fortification in Ohio is Fort Laurens, on the west bank of the Tuscarawas near presentday Bolivar.

When the war ended in 1783, the new United States of America had no money, but it did have land. The Land ordinance of May 20, 1785, provided for the survey and sale of the western lands. It was hoped that this would encourage orderly settlement by allowing people to buy land and own land. This would also provide the government with a means to pay war debts and to compensate veterans.

The Geographer of the United States, Thomas Hutchins, was charged with the survey. Hutchins, a British engineering officer during the French and Indian War, had been imprisoned in London in 1779 for refusing to take up arms against the American rebels. He escaped and returned to America, where General Washington appointed him Geographer of the Army.

Rene’ Robert Sieur de LaSalle (1643-1687) was a French aristocrat who came to Canada at the age of 23. He bought land near Montreal and became a successful fur trader. From the Seneca Indians he learned of a great river in the interior, which they called the O-Y-O. In 1659, he sold his land and set off in search of the river, more furs, and greater riches. He went as far south as the rapids at present day Louisville, Kentucky. The French claimed much of the Ohio Valley based on LaSalle’s expedition.

Other French traders followed. The “highway” of the time, used by Indians and French alike, were the rivers and the “great trail” which linked Indian villages near present-day Detroit and Pittsburgh. The famous Great Trail passed near the present Seven Ranges Scout Reservation. The Indians portaged their birch-bark canoes over the trail from the Beaver River in Pennsylvania to the Little Sandy River and the Tuscarawas River here in Ohio. They called the place where the trails met “Painted Post.” This is now the town of Dungannon.

In 1679, two French explorers and their parties actually passed through present-day Hanoverton, just four miles from our reservation. From there they headed toward Dungannon, then northeast across Little Beaver Creek to a trading post that later became Logstown.

The British were also interested in the Ohio country. In 1748, the Ohio Company of Virginia sent Cristopher Gist to survey and open trade with the Ohio Indians. Gist found the Indians generally loyal to the French who traded among them without trying to settle the land and make it their own. The Indians believed that “God gave us this country. We do not understand measuring out the land, it is all ours.”

You will see the figure of the Native American accompanying that of Thomas Hutchins on our patches and trail signs.

As you walk Hutch’s Trail, think of him and his surveyors, who endured tremendous hardships to open this land for settlement. Think also of the Native Americans whose lands were taken away from them to accommodate these patriots who made America free from the British.