Notes on John Ballendine

References in C&O Canal Companion:
Historical Sketch, page 9, Mile 5.6
and "Washington's Canal" inset,
and updates to Miles 42.2 and 69.4.

An interesting feature of Ballendine's map, as shown in this detail, is the depiction
of a "Waggon Road 20 miles" connecting the Potomac South Branch to the
Ohio watershed. Most schemes for a Potomac route across the Appalachians
used the North Branch of the Potomac.

Further notes on Ballendines Potomac navigation scheme:

Little documentary material survives concerning Ballendine's activities in 1774-1775. One source is a series of announcements appearing in the Virginia Gazette, as shown below, and in the Maryland Gazette.

The second notice contains an impressive array of colonial figures, including George Washington, Thomas Johnson (soon to become the first governor of the state of Maryland and owner at various times of furnaces at Green Springs, Catoctin, and Point of Rocks), and William Deakins (who owned the furnace property near the Mouth of the Monocacy visited by George Washington at the beginning of Washington's October 1790 trip to inspect possible locations for the Federal City).


Map from Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress. The date the map was drawn is uncertain, but it was likely prepared to accompany materials promoting the venture that Ballendine distributed in 1774. The Library of Congress acquired it for $25 in 1934, from a book dealer in Boston, and it was "rediscovered" by happenstance in 1963 as the Library was preparing an exhibit on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of West Virginia's statehood. The map also depicts Ballendine's proposed connection between the James and Kanawha Rivers, the forerunner of the James River and Kanawha Canal project.


  • "John Ballendine's Eighteenth-Century Map of Virginia," by Arther G. Burton and Richard W. Stephenson, in the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, July 1964, reprinted in A La Carte,Selected Papers on Maps and Atlases, Compiled by Walter W. Ristow, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1972.
  • Early Chapters in the Development of the Patomac Route to the West, Mrs. Corra Bacon-Foster, as reprinted from the records of the Columbia Historical Society. [Originally presented to the Society on December 14, 1909.]
  • The notices from the Virginia Gazette, shown above, appeared in the issues of January 14, 1775, and October 28, 1775. [Note that the dates for each notice do not correspond tothe issue date]


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