Forbes Road

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  Forbes Road Forbes Road Map.png

Historical Background

Forbes Road was also called the Raystown Path, or Old Trading Path.[1] Forbes Road was an expansion of an older trading path into a military road as a result of the French and Indian War under the leadership of British Brigadier General John Forbes. His goal was to cross the Appalachian Mountains with heavy artillery and an army large enough to repel French forces at Fort Duquesne in what is now Pittsburgh on the Ohio River. General Forbes' men constructed the road in 1758 from Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Fort Duquesne, connecting Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. The road from Carlisle to Fort Duquesne was about 200 miles (322 km).[2]

Forbes Road followed the "Raystown Traders Path," an Delaware-Shawnee Indian and fur trader pack trail connecting the Susquehanna and Ohio rivers via Raystown (modern Bedford).[3] The construction part of the way from Harrisburg to Raystown (Bedford) was relatively easy because of the unfinished Burd's Road (1755) originally intended as a military supply route to connect to Braddock's Road.[4] At Raystown General Forbes had a choice of heading south to Fort Cumberland where he could follow Braddock's Road toward Fort Duquesne. Instead he picked the the more direct route, choosing to widen the older Raystown Traders Path even though it involved building switchbacks on several steep grades. It took six months to finish the Forbes military road west to Fort Duquesne.

After the French retreated, and the French and Indian War ended, Forbes Road and Braddock's Road became important routes for British and American settlers to cross over the mountains to Pittsburgh, the Ohio Valley, and into what became the old Northwest Territory of the United States.[5]

Trail Route

Counties east to west: Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Cumberland (Carlisle), Franklin, Fulton, Bedford (Raystown), Somerset, Westmoreland, and Allegheny (Fort Duquesne).[1]



Internet Sites



  1. 1.0 1.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 853. (FHL Collection 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. "Forbes Road" [general road marker at Bedford] as explained at at (accessed 20 December 2010).
  3. "Forbes Road (Raystown Path) #1" [road marker SW of Carlisle] as explained at at (accessed 20 December 2010).
  4. "Col. James Burd" [road marker in Highspire] as explained at at (accessed 20 December 2010).
  5. "Forbes Road" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 18 December 2010).