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Celoron Expedition 1999

Pierre-Joseph Celoron de Blainville departed on June 15, 1749 with twenty-three canoes transporting two hundred forty seven men. The expedition took five months and attempted to restore the deteriorating relationship between New France and the Native Americans of the Ohio country. Celoron's story was copied down in his journel. Today, Celoron is a small footnote in most history books.

A group of French and Native living history reenactors decided to retrace a portion of Celoronís route in honor of the 250th anniversary of this event. The journey would take three days and traverse 93 miles of the Allegheny River. The planning took one year to develop all the resources required to support this operation. The call to arms was quite impressive; the end result was twenty-five period-looking, canoes over fifty people, and a video crew. Native Americans, Canadian Milice, and French Marines were all represented as in Celoronís 1749 expedition(List of Members of Expedition). The event enjoyed an excellent ground support crew. They followed the expedition supplying water and medical support.

The Buckaloons was the starting point of this trip. We camped on a large island Friday night just below Brokenstraw Creek.We had quite a crowd to send the expedition off.We provided a short program to the public at the Buckaloons.The crowds lined up along the boat ramp to watch us start this journey.The natives led the way to the island. We passed by the mouth of Brokenstraw Creek, this was where Celoron held his first council with the natives. The night was cool and soon the air filled smoke from fires and drumming from the native camp. Each group set up their own camps every night. The weather and the river conditions were perfect for our trip. Saturday morning the expedition assembled for a plate ceremony. The Lordís prayer was read in Latin and Celoronís plate was recited in French. The group fired salutes and were on the river by 7:30am. We encountered a party of British traders who fired salutes when we approached.They were a group that came down from Pittsfield to ambush us along the river. We did not return fire, this was not a war party. The group made excellent time. The first day was kind of a canoe race of sorts The first day the expedition traveled forty miles. We stopped at 5:30pm just above President one of the most beautiful areas along the Allegheny River.

Day two, we were on the river by 8:00am after firing salutes. Every morning there was river fog. The canoes would disappear ahead of you into the mist. You could hear the Natives drumming and the Milice singing it was truly magical experience. We portage around some rapids at Oil City and stopped at Franklin for resupply. French Creek joins the Allegheny at Franklin and this was site of Fort Machault. We pushed on to an island just above the Indian God Rock pulling in about 6:00pm. The expedition traveled seventy miles in two days and the spirits were very high. The Natives sang every night; Sunday night we had a special treat of a stomp dance that circled all the camps.

The last day on the river, we conducted another plate ceremony and fired salutes, on the river by 7:00am. It was a slower pace; we want to savor the last part of this journey. The expedition arrived to cannon and musket salutes at Emlenton. This flotilla made a great impression on the public as they traveled down the Allegheny River. The local press coverage of the event was first class.

I want to thank all the members of the expedition and the ground support for making this possible. This was truely a group effort. We hope to repeat this Expedition in 2001.

A video company filmed the Expedition and we hope that it will be ready by the first of December.