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Learn the history of these Scenic Ohio rivers

Kayak  Tuscarawas River, Kokosing River, Mohican River, Walhonding River - Ohio

Tusarawas River, Kokosing River, Mohican River, Walhonding River, Ohio

The Name - Tuscarawas
The name Tuscarawas is one of Indian origin. The Tuscaroras of North Carolina migrated northward in the year 1711, and became a part of the Confederation afterward known as the Six Nations. 

It is claimed that a portion of this tribe afterward wandered westward, selected this portion of the state as their hunting-ground, and gave their name to the locality.   It has been said  that Tuscarawas means "old town." The oldest Indian town in the valley was situated near the present site of Bolivar and was called "Tuscarawa." 

If the Tuscaroras ever occupied the valley it must have been for only a short time, for the Delawares inhabited it when the first white men began to enter it. The Delaware first lived in the west, beyond the Mississippi River. Most of them moved east and settled in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.  For many years they were very powerful and were feared by all the other Indian tribes. In time, however, the Iroquois, being more crafty and cunning, weakened their power and drove them  west to the Tuscarawas Valley around 1740.

Indian Trails
The Indian trails of the old Ohio were the keys to the central west. They opened a way for men to come to know and exploit it. "The Great Trail" followed the Tuscarawas River through the northern Tuscarawas Valley. This original east-west Indian trail was the most important trail of the central west, the main route  from Fort Pitt to Fort Detroit. It was the western extension of the continental route from the seaboard to the northwest.

The First Explorers: 

The French were the first to extensively travel and explore Ohio. They traveled Ohio's rivers by canoe and were called Voyageurs which provided  the simplest, swiftest and most effective means of travel known to primitive man.

 The Tuscarawas River was a major trade route through Ohio. This historic route follows the Cuyahoga, Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers from Lake Erie, at Cleveland, south to the Ohio at Marietta.

The Canal System
1830 marked the beginning of another "Great Trail". This trail followed the original trail closely. These new trails were the canal systems of Ohio. The Ohio-Erie Canal flowed north-south and followed the old Muskingum Trail. The Sandy-Beaver flowed east-west, much as the Great Trail did. These canals met where the Big Sandy meets the Tuscarawas River (The Great Trail Crossing).


The canal projects were abandoned when the railroads came to the valley around 1850, but now live on as The Ohio & Erie Canal Corridor.  •

The Kokosing River

The earliest settlers of the area were the ancient mound builders.  The Adena inhabited Ohio from about

1,000 B.C. to 100 A.D. Indications that theHopewell Culture existed are  in the form of habitation

sites, but these are rare. Nearly every area of Knox County shows the influence of the Adenas.

Native Indians
The next inhabitants of Knox County were the American Indians. The territory was mainly in possession of the Delaware Nation. Several tribes of Ohio, including the Hurons, the Shawnees, the Mingos, and the Wyandots were generally on good terms and roamed freely across the boundaries of the Delawares. Several Delaware camps were located within Knox County prior to the War of 1812. One was along the Kokosing opposite the mouth of Center Run. Another was situated near Fredericktown.

The Kokosing River valley was utilized as a trade route for the Indians. This situation existed without much change until 1785 when the Greenville Treaty ceded a large portion of Northern Ohio to the Americans.  The Greenville Treaty marked the start of immigration into the area by early pioneers and the decline of the Indian dominance.


Factory Rapids on the Kokosing River in Ohio

River Commerce
In the early 1800's the flow of the Koskosing River powered machinery that was vital for human sustenance and shelter: mills for sawing wood and grinding grain. Water depths (aided by some dams) were sufficient to carry flat boats loaded with agricultural and wood products downstream to eager markets.


The Walhonding Canal was opened in 1847. This canal brought commerce from Mount Vernon to Walhonding and Cavallo, but the importance of canal travel dwindled with the coming of the railroad.


 The importance of railroads to the history of  development is clearly evident from noticing that the settlements of appreciable size existed only along railroad routes from the turn of the century until the 1960’s.    •

Honey Run Falls  Kokosing River, Ohio

The Mohican River

The scenic beauty and natural features of the Mohican region can be attributed to events that occurred over 12,000 years ago during the ice age in Ohio. The last glacier to enter Ohio, the Wisconsinan, ended its advance in the Mohican region forming a glacial boundary. Several moraines, linear ridges of soil and rock till deposited along the ice edge, are evident in the area. 


The Name Mohican

The Mohican River's name has its roots in Native American language. Mohican was derived from the Mohegan, one of several tribes which inhabited the valley. The Delaware indians also inhabited this river region. They held claim to the lands until 1797 whan the Delaware ceded a large portion of northern Ohio at the signing of the Greenville Treaty. They were eventually driven from the area by the European settlers after the war of 1812.

Greenville Treaty
 As you paddle down the river, you will cross from Holmes to Knox County. This point is historically significant, since the Greenville Treaty line crosses this point. The Greenville Treaty line was established in August of 1795 between the United States and Native American tribes, following the end of the Northwest Indian War. Those lands south of the treaty line, including Knox County, were open to settlers, while those to the north remained Native American territory.

Mohican River, Ohio

Canoe Capital of Ohio
Today, the Mohican-Loudonville area serves as the Canoe Capital of Ohio due to the more than 50 years of canoe livery operation, number of canoes registered in the area, and concentration of paddling activities. For those who enjoy paddling and other outdoor recreation pursuits, this area affords more opportunity than any other in Ohio. The stretch of the Mohican from Loudonville to Greer, Ohio, near the Wally Road Scenic Byway, serves as Ohio’s largest outdoor recreational complex.

Today, in the surrounding area of Loudonville, there are 10 campgrounds with more than 2,500 campsites and six canoe liveries offering 1,000 canoes, rafts and kayaks. •

The Walhonding River

The first white occupant known to the history of this territory was a woman—Mary HARRIS—the heroine of the “Legend of the Walhonding,” in 1740. She had been captured when verging into womanhood, somewhere between 1730 and 1740, and adopted as a wife by an Indian chief; EAGLE FEATHER.

 As early as 1750 she was living in a village near the junction of the Killbuck with the Walhonding, about seven miles northwest of “The Forks of the Muskingum.” So prominent had she become, that the place was named “The White Woman’s Town,” and the Walhonding branch of the river thence to the Forks was called in honor of her “The White Woman’s River.”

The Name Walhonding
Walhonding derives directly from the Delaware Indian name – Walhanding - for the current Walhonding River and several villages on the river. The modern village of Walhonding is near one of those villages. The name derives from either the Delaware word, Walhandi, meaning ditch or trench, or is a verbal form of the word, Woalheen, meaning “to dig a hole”.

 In 1758 and 1764, the Delaware peoples are documented as going up the Walhonding River seasonally to dig for roots. Alternatively, in the 19th century when the Delaware name was

Mohawk Dam Walhonding River Ohio

adopted by the Americans, the site was the location of the Walhonding Canal – a large, long ditch – which fit the Indian name quite well. A third possibility is the name referred to the high cliffs on the river, a Place of Gorges.

The Mohawk Dam
Mohawk Dam, located in , ,  northwest of , is a  constructed by the  (USACE) in the mid-1930s for the purpose of flood control on the . 

Construction of the Mohawk Dam was started in April 1935 and was completed in September 1937. The dam has always operated as a dry dam, holding back water only during a flood and releasing it slowly downstream. The highest water level ever recorded at the Mohawk Dam was during the flood of January 2005, where the water reached a height of 80.01 feet  above its normal level.

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