The Venango Trail existed for centuries before European settlers came to the area. It is thought that it was originally formed by migrating buffalo herds, who over time beat a path into the earth as they traveled.
Native American tribes like the Senecas, Onendagas, and Cayugas were still actively using the trail when Europeans arrived. They would travel down from Lake Erie through present-day Evans City to Shannopin’s Town (present-day Lawrenceville area). The trail continued through East Liberty to the mouth of Turtle Creek and then through Cumberland, Maryland, Winchester, Virginia, and along the Shenandoah Valley into the Carolinas.
Cornplanter Native Americans would float their rafts down the Allegheny River and return by land on the Venango Trail. It is said that they would stop in present-day West View and hold shooting contests with the settlers.
It is this same trail that brought early settlers into the West View area. Perry Highway roughly follows the original path carved by buffalo and Native Americans. The French at Fort Duquesne and later the British at Fort Pitt used the trail to travel to other forts along the Great Lakes. Famously in 1753, a 21-year-old George Washington used the trail to deliver a message from Virginia governor Robert Dinwiddie, warning the commander of French troops in the Ohio Valley that they were trespassing on British land. Washington and his guide marker Christopher Gist nearly died several times on their journey. At one point, they almost drowned in the icy waters of the Monongahela River after falling off their homemade raft.
After the Revolutionary War, when the land in the West View/Ross area was opened up to settlement, people used the Venango Trail to travel north out of Pittsburgh. Settlers like our own Casper Reel acquired land close to the trail, and soon small towns were popping up alongside it.