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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 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 route connecting the Susquehanna and Ohio rivers via Raystown (modern Bedford).[3] 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 supply route to connect to Braddock's Road.[4]

After the French were forced out, and the War ended, Forbes Road became an important route for British and American settlers over the mountains to the Ohio Valley and into what became the old Northwest Territory.[5]

Trail Route

Counties Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Bedford, Somerset, Westmoreland, and Allegheny.[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).


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