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favorably regarded by explorers and geographers as a point which would ultimately become vastly important in its rela
tions to the commerce of the great West.
As early as 1765, Benjamin Franklin, with his usual sagacity, foresaw its availability and recommended its occupancy as a military post. Washington, while various projects
for water communication between the great northern lakes and
Chesapeake Bay were being considered, suggested the practicability of a route from Lake Erie by way of the Cuyahoga, Tuscarawas and Muskingum into the Ohio, as an outlet to the
future inland commerce of the lakes. This route necessitated
a portage near Akron of less than seven miles, whereby shipments were to be transferred from the lakes to the River Ohio;
thence to ascend its upper tributaries into the mountains, from
whence by another portage, would be reached the navigable rivers falling into the Atlantic. The commercial importance, of the mouth of the Cuyahoga was thus early perceived by distinguished men; nevertheless history gives no reliable information of its permanent occupancy for trade or commerce anterior to the year 1786; nor is there any evidence that any active measures were taken to carry forward this scheme for opening communication between the lakes and the Atlantic, and nothing more is heard of it until 1793–4, when the State of New York proposed to provide an outlet for lake commerce, by clearing out and improving the Oswego and
Mohawk Rivers, when the discussion of the route by the Cuyahoga, and Tuscarawas into the Ohio was revived. We are destitute of further historical facts concerning either of these projects, from the year 1794 until 1807-five years after Ohio was admitted into the Union as a State. In that year the Legislature passed an act authorizing a lottery for the purpose of raising $12,000 for improving navigation between Lake Erie and the river Ohio. The Commissioners appointed by the act met and organized, published the scheme and sold a few tickets for five dollars each; but no drawing ever occurred, and finally, in after years, the money but without interest was graciously refunded to such of the ticket holders as had retained their tickets; and that was all. May it not be that the failure of this brilliant scheme culminated in the enactment by the Legislature of our earliest statutes against all lotteries and schemes of chance? These several plans of improvements having failed, the great Northern Lakes, whose shores now teem with millions of industrious and intelligent people, remained without water communication with the Atlantic Ocean and the outside world until the final completion of the Erie Canal in the year 1825. Within the memory of many present, how vast the change; how wonderful and almost magical the transition! Some of you doubtless remember the boding yell of the Indian, and the hoarse growl of wild animals as they reverberated along the lonely shore, or
broke the stillness of the midnight air, startling you from sweet dreams of far off friends, and instinctively causing you to grasp the ever-present weapon of defense. But you have lived to see this beautiful city, with its vast industries, its commercial and mercantile structures, its magnificent private residences, its public school houses, and splendid temples of worship rise and expand over a territory which was ibytja wilderness when you first beheld it. And you have remained that you might hear the musical monotone of the approaching steamer, and the shrill whistle of the locomotive succeed, the gloomy silence of the woods, and the roar of the breakers. The frail skiff, once your only means of crossing the Cuyahoga, has given place to a bridge of monumental arches which will endure until that river shall cease to flow. Apd now, instead of waiting, as in earlier days, the uncertain and long delayed, though ever welcome arrival of some adventurous neighbor from the east, with news from friends and the old home, you may instantly communicate by telegraph. } ,
Concerning the early occupation of the site on which pur city stands, and the scene presented to General Moses fleaveland and his associates on his arrival here on the morning of the 22d day of July, 1796, I cannot do better than to reproduce substantially the eloquent and graphic words of our distinguished fellow-citizen, Colonel Charles Whittlesey: All the party must have felt unusually interested as they
approached the spot. As they coasted close along the shore, overhung by a dense green forest, mirrored in the waters over which they were passing, the mouth of the river disclosed itself, as a small opening between low banks of sand. The man who controls the party is seated in the stern, steering his own craft, which is gracefully headed into the stream. His complexion was so swarthy, his figure so square and stout, and his dress so rude, that the Indians supposed some of the blood of their race had crept into his veins. As they passed into the channel, and the broad river unfolded itself to their view, bordered by marshes, reeds and coarse grass, their anticipations must have been somewhat moderated. The flats on the west side and the densely wooded bluffs on the east presented anything but a cheerful prospect. It was necessary to proceed some distance along this shore before there was solid ground enough to effect a landing."
"As the Indians had from generation to generation kept open a trail along the margin of the lake, it is probable that Cleaveland's party, scanning with sharp eyes every object as they moved along the river, saw where the aboriginal highway descended the hill, along what is now Union Lane. Here they came to the bank, and scrambling out, trod for the first time the soil of the future city. While the boat was being unloaded Cleaveland had an opportunity to ascend the bluff and scan the surrounding scenery. This view must have revived
his enthusiasm more than the swamps along the river had depressed it. A young growth of oaks with low bushy tops covered the ground. Beneath them were thrifty bushes, rooted in a lean but dry and pleasant soil favorable to the object in view. A smooth and even field sloped gently toward the lake, whose blue waters could be seen extending to the horizon. His imagination doubtless indulged in a pardonable flight into the future, when a great commercial city should take the place of the stinted forest growth which the northern tempests had nearly destroyed. But whatever may have been his anticipations, the reality has outstripped them all. Such a combination of natural beauty, with natural advantages of business, is rarely witnessed." As he gazed with rapture upon the far-off lake and the tortuous river at his feet, well might he have imagined that the time was not extremely distant when all the natural facilities within range of his vision would be utilized by the inhabitants of an enterprising city to be built upon the ground where he stood, and which should perpetuate his name forever. Pardon me for suggesting that this association would do a noble and commendable act were it to inaugurate a project for the erection in Lake View Park of a monument crowned with a statue of General Cleaveland, commemorative of his having founded our beautiful city. I cannot doubt that our citizens, ever proverbial for liberality, would aid us in the work. I would also most