The Kittanning Path was a major east-west Native American trail in western Pennsylvania used during the 18th century. It provided an overland route for the Lenape, Shawnee, and early European settlers across the Allegheny Mountains, terminating at its western end on the Allegheny River at the Native American village of Kittanning (at present day Kittanning, Pennsylvania), the largest Native American village in the Ohio Country west of the Alleghenies. It traversed a section of Pennsylvania closed to white settlement by the original settlement treaty with William Penn.
In an attempt to settle frontier borders, the English and Native Americans signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix after the French and Indian War. It opened some of Pennsylvania west of the Alleghenies to white settlement. In the 1750s, this area had been the scene of a fierce raids by Native Americans against white settlement, and a major British retribution campaign during the French and Indian War.
The Kittanning Path fell into disuse in the 1780s and was abandoned. A section of the original path is preserved in northwestern Cambria County.
Description (East to West)
It began southeast of Altoona at Frankstown on the Juniata River. It ran west, crossing the Allegheny Ridge approximately 5 mi (8 km) west of Altoona at Kittanning Gap, later the location of the Horseshoe Curve railroad site.
The path ran northwest through Cambria County, passing east of Carrolltown. It entered Indiana County approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) south of Cherry Tree at "Canoe Place", the uppermost Native American canoe portage on the West Branch of the Susquehanna.
It followed a southwest course, through Yellow Creek State Park, then along the headwaters of Two Lick Creek, roughly past Uniontown, Pennsylvania (not the current Uniontown), Cookport, and Diamondville to U.S. Highway 422. It followed the approximate present course of the highway west and NNW through Indiana to Shelocta. It crossed into Armstrong County near Elderton and ended at the village of Kittanning on the east bank of the Allegheny.
The path was in use as early as 1721. In 1744 the trader John Hart was granted a license to trade with the Indians on western Pennsylvania lands that were closed at the time to white settlement. Hart established a way station campsite, called Hart's Sleeping Place, near the continental divide in Cambria County. The way station appeared on colonial maps and was used in 1752 by Gov. James Hamilton, and in 1754 by John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg. The last Native American encampment was recorded at the site in 1781.
In the 1750s the path became the route by which Lenape, unhappy with the treaty that had given away much of their land rights in western Pennsylvania, raided white settlements in central Pennsylvania. In 1755, the Lenape chief Shingas used the trail to attack British settlements in the Juniata River, returning with prisoners to the village of Kittanning. In early August 1756, the Lenape used the path to burn Fort Granville near present-day Lewistown and take prisoners. After the burning of the fort, the British dispatched Lt. Colonel John Armstrong, who pursued the Lenape along the path, camping at Canoe Place in early September before moving on to destroy the village of Kittanning. Armstrong earned the title "the Hero of Kittanning" for the raid, and later went on to serve as a Major General for the United States in the American Revolutionary War and to serve in the Second Continental Congress.
The trail has been surveyed by historians through Cambria County. An authentic section of the original trail is preserved near Eckenrode Mill east of Carrolltown.