Zane's Trace: The Road to Maysville
After serving in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, Col. Zane traveled to Washington, D.C., in early 1796 to petition Congress for money to finance the construction of a road that would encourage settlement in the Northwest Territory and speed up travel times to Kentucky. Zane would profit by construction of the road, both because he owned most of the land at its starting point of Wheeling, and also because he intended to buy tracts of land along the route. Congress approved a contract financing the project in May, 1796. Col. Zane was assisted in overseeing the construction by his brother, Jonathan Zane, and his son-in-law, John McIntire, as well as by a Native American guide, Tomepomehala. Col. Zane took advantage of existing Native American trails for some of the route, including the Mingo Trail in the area between present day Fairview, Ohio, and Zanesville, Ohio, and the Moxahala Trail in the area between present day Zanesville, Ohio, and Chillicothe, Ohio. Chillicothe was the only settlement along the trail which existed at the time of its construction. The Trace was constructed through heavily forested, hilly terrain, and at first was not easily traveled by wagon. After Ohio became a state in 1803, a state transportation tax was levied and used in 1804 to improve the entirety of the Trace, clearing out stumps and widening the thoroughfare. Between 1825 and 1830, the segment of Zane's Trace between Wheeling and Zanesville was rebuilt as part of the new National Road.
The rivers and streams along the Trace were crossed by ford or ferry. Ferries ran across the Ohio River to Maysville, Kentucky, and eventually the town of Aberdeen, Ohio, was founded in 1816 on the Ohio side of the river. A bridge was not built connecting Aberdeen and Maysville until 1931.