First Postal Routes

In 1789 Fort Washington, Cincinnati’s earliest beginning, was established. Its site lay across the old Indian warpath from the British garrison at Detroit to the Ohio River. The future city consisted of eight hundred acres, paid for in Continental certificates, at a cost of two hundred and fifty dollars, in the depreciated currency of that time. There had been no mail system previous to 1794; but in that year a small fleet of light boats was built, after the manner of whaling craft, each with four oarsmen and a coxswain, all well armed with loaded muskets. Two horsemen carried the mail overland from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, where the first boat began its journey; at Gallipolis a second boat carried it to Maysville, Kentucky, and a third boat to Cincinnati. From Wheeling to Cincinnati a letter would be six days on its journey; the return trip, being against the current, took twice as long. Postage on an ordinary letter was twenty-five cents, not necessarily prepaid.


The New England Magazine.  New Series, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 1899.