ABOUT the year 1750 the scarce-dispelled clouds of war between Great Britain and France began once more to lower, and it became apparent to the thin line of merchants and farmers along the Atlantic seaboard that the two nations would soon engage in a struggle for control of the Ohio Valley. As a consequence, Governor James Hamilton of Pennsylvania engaged Philadelphia's best-known cartographer, Lewis Evans--"a gentleman of great American Knowledge," acclaimed Ben Franklin--to go on a secret mission to spy out the land across the mountain wall at the headwaters of the westward flowing rivers.
There is some doubt as to whether he undertook the journey, but at any rate he eventually published a General Map of the Middle British Colonies of America and accompanied it with an Analysis descriptive of the region included in the map. There is no better contemporary account of the West of that day than the Analysis; it was a narrative to titillate those nascent imperialists of the colonies, the land speculators and merchants, and the map, in its many pirated editions, became the cloudy pillar of the next generation on its westward march. Hence, without further parley, let Lewis Evans take the stand:
From this Rief of Rocks [the fall line], over which all the rivers