The meeting place of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers became a key location as three empires struggled to control the Ohio country.
George Washington first visited the Forks on November 22, 1753 and said, “I spent some time in viewing the rivers, and the land in the Fork, which I think extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers.”
Washington’s words made a strong impression on Virginia Gov. Robert Dinwiddie, who rushed a company of militia under Capt. William Trent to the Forks in the spring of 1754. Trent constructed a small stockade fort, which the French promptly captured and demolished. In its place they constructed the formidable Fort Duquesne, which served as the southernmost in a vertical line of forts built from Lake Erie south—and an exclamation point to French intentions in the area. George Washington would lead an army against Fort Duquesne later in the year, only to lose at Fort Necessity 60 miles southeast of the Forks.
The following year, Gen. Braddock’s army marched within seven miles of Fort Duquesne before being resoundingly defeated.
Fort Duquesne finally fell on November 25, 1758 to the British army of Gen. John Forbes, and the Forks of the Ohio became the site of the massive Fort Pitt, as well as the newly born city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.