Ebenezer Zane

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Zane, Ebenezer Home.jpg
Reconstruction of the home of Ebenezer Zane in Logan County, Ohio. The home was built in 1805 and used as an army headquarters in the War of 1812. The photograph was taken ca. 1940-1949.

Ebenezer Zane was an early settler and town builder in the Ohio Country in the years after the American Revolution.

Zane was born in Virginia in 1747 and moved west with his wife and brothers in 1770 to the area near what is now Wheeling, West Virginia. In the late 1700s, Zane became known for building a frontier road through the Northwest Territory. Known as Zane's Trace, the road connected Wheeling, Virginia, to Limestone, Kentucky (present-day Maysville). It was a major road in early Ohio until well after the War of 1812. In 1796, Zane petitioned Congress for permission to build a road through the region, with the stipulation that the U.S. government would grant him land where the road crossed the Muskingum, Hockhocking, and Scioto Rivers. The government agreed to his terms and required the road to be open by January 1, 1797. It was widely believed that a road would encourage increased trade and settlement in Ohio.

Zane's Trace was more of a trail than a road. Zane used existing Native American trails wherever possible and cut down trees to create a primitive path. Prior to Ohio's statehood, Zane's Trace was not accessible by wagon. It was so narrow and rough that it was only passable on foot or on horseback. Zane built ferries at each of the river crossings and profited from travel over the road. Zane also established a number of communities along the road including Lancaster and Zanesville. Zane died in 1811.

Zane played a significant role in the early economic and social development of the region and helped put Ohio on the path to statehood.

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