Public can help re-create history in Connellsville
The three flags flying high over the Memorial Bridge in Connellsville tell the story of the struggle that took place for the control of the water below, as the French, English and American flags wave proudly as a reminder of the importance of waterways in the days before highways and roadways.
“Rivers are nature's highways,” said Karen Hechler, president of the Connellsville Historical Society. “They needed the rivers to get around, and they needed the rivers to move their furs and get them out of the country. Having control of the rivers was extremely important. If you had control of the river, then you had control of the land.”
The struggle for river and land control was one of the factors involved in Gen. Edward Braddock's expedition in the summer of 1755.
Braddock's expedition was just one of a British offensive against the French in North America that summer. As commander-in-chief of the British army in America, Braddock led the main thrust against the Ohio Valley with a column some 2,100 strong, leading his men right through the Fay-West area, crossing the Youghiogheny River in Connellsville.
Braddock was aware that the crossing of the river was essential in his quest to move on to his destination of Fort Duquesne, and he — along with a young and eager George Washington — decided that crossing the Yough at Connellsville was the ideal location.
In honor of the historic crossing that took place on June 29, 1755, the Connellsville Historic Society has been conducting a re-enactment of the event, inviting period re-enactors and the public alike to take part in the crossing, following in the footsteps of history.
“This is the 10th anniversary of the (celebration of the) crossing,” Hechler said of the annual gathering at the Yough River Park. “This is our unique way of taking part in the historic event that took place right here in Connellsville.”
The opening ceremonies for the event will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and will include the dedication of a handicap ramp built by Jonathan Soisson, who made the ramp as an Eagle Scout project.
Starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, the re-enactment of the crossing will take place.
“Members of the public are invited to cross, but you must be 18 years of age or older and you must wear shoes,” said Hechler, adding that the event is made possible by the members of the New Haven Hose Company, which monitors and guide the water crossing.
Hechler said that the event brings in interest from all over the area, and community support for the annual crossing is always appreciated.
“The local VFW here in Connellsville has supplied food for the re-enactors every year,” Hechler said. “The re-enactors said that they love it, and Connellsville treats them better then any other town.”
In recognition of the 10th anniversary, the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce has chosen the event as its annual banner display showcase.
“We are so happy to have the Chamber of Commerce recognize us,” Hechler said. “We are honored by it.”
About 25 re-enactors from a few re-enactment groups are expected to take part in the events, and Huron Indian re-enactor Todd Johnson, known as “Ghost in the Head,” said that re-enactment is fun and unique.
“We are going to be giving ‘Washington' and his men a little trouble as they try to cross, chest deep in the river,” Johnson said of his part in the re-enactment. “This is a unique event, and the crossing itself is super, super original, and it gives people a truly unique experience.”
In addition to the crossing, there will be other activities, games and demonstrations at the park, symbolic of colonial life and the era of Braddock.
“This is something that Connellsville does that is different,” Hechler said. “This is our way to celebrate our local involvement in the French & Indian War.”
Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fayette officials reappoint dead man
- Zoning board considers resort
- Measles warning issued to Connellsville
- Connellsville business owner’s loss of pet prompts fund for animal respirators
- South Connellsville mayor charged with transferring gun without council permission
- South Connellsville Mayor Casini arraigned in gun case
- Major storm skips past Fay-West area
- Ticket sales set for Connellsville Area High School annual musical
- Big future seen for former Fayette grocery warehouse
- Connellsville looks for ways to raise money, cut expenses
- Fayette dad’s appeal denied in 2012 conviction