Highlights of the Maumee River Valley

Did you know…

  • The Maumee River  is the largest in the entire Great Lakes System, and it is an Ohio designated State Scenic and Recreational River. Its watershed drains over 4 million acres, (that’s 6562 sq. miles– the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined) from parts of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. The Maumee River is one of the most biologically productive in the Great Lakes, and yet is also the greatest source of phosphorus pollution and sediment into Lake Erie.
  • The unique geography of the Maumee watershed is a remnant of glaciers and the slowly falling water levels of prehistoric Lake Erie. The Oak Openings Region is a rare remnant of former beaches and oak savannahs, and is considered by the Nature Conservancy to be one of the “Last Great Places on Earth.” The Great Black Swamp once covered most of the watershed, and over 16,000 miles of drainage ditches were installed in order to create the level and productive farmland that continues to generate much of the economic wealth of the region.
  • The Maumee River has served as a link between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes for humans for over 10,000 years. During the early period of European discovery in the New World,  European traders and trappers began using the route already in place by millenia of Native American communities. As New France increased its influence in the Mississippi Valley, the route was the direct link between Quebec and New Orleans.
  • This excellent link became contested as Britain and France vied for dominance in trade with Native American communities, and it was a major theater during the era between the French and Indian War  and the War of 1812. It also played a role in troop movements during the Revolutionary War.
  • France built two forts in the valley–Fort St. Phillipe des Miamis and Fort Miamis— near what is now downtown Fort Wayne, between 1700 and 1760. Great Britain won the second of these forts during the French and Indian War and manned it until Pontiac’s War in 1763, when it was taken by Native American forces.
  • Great Britain also built a fort at the east end of the Maumee River at the rapids near what is now Maumee, Ohio, and called it Fort Miami. The British rebuilt the fort in 1794, on what was now considered American soil by the U.S. following the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War. The British wanted to maintain trading relationships in what was now the Northwest Territory, and continued to occupy the fort, on U.S. territory, until the end of the War of 1812.
  • The period between 1785 and 1815 saw continued efforts by the United States, British Canada, and Native Americans to gain control of the Northwest Territory. In 1790 newly elected President Washington sent General Harmer and a group of army regulars and Kentucky militia to take control of the headwaters of the Maumee, which had become the meeting point for a confederation of American Indian tribes organized to oppose American expansion into the region. General Harmer’s troops were routed in a series of battles in what is now Fort Wayne, Indiana. A second expedition in 1791 was even more unsuccessful for American troops, when U.S. forces under General Arthur St. Clair suffered the worst loss ever against American Indian forces at what is now Fort Recovery, Ohio.
  • The tide turned in 1794, when American forces under the command of General Anthony Wayne beat the Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near Maumee, Ohio. Following this battle, and the Treaty of Green Ville in 1795,  the Americans took possession of the region until 1812.
  • The Maumee Valley again became a theater of war during the War of 1812. In September 1812, British allied American Indians held Fort Wayne under siege for several weeks. During May and July 1813, Fort Meigs, at what is now Perrysburg, was besieged on two separate occasions, and received a barrage of artillary from British forces across the Maumee River.  British and Indian troops led by Tecumseh traveled the Maumee route, as did the American forces of William Henry Harrison and others.
  • After the end of the War of 1812 the Maumee River watershed underwent a rapid transition as American Indian groups ceded large tracts of land, settlers from Europe and the eastern United States began to build communities, and an era of massive internal improvements in Ohio and Indiana led to the creation of the Miami and Erie Canal and the Wabash and Erie Canal. These two monumental projects brought thousands of workers to the valley, and created the transportation system needed for settlement.
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