Rivers, the highways of the time
Did you know that back in the 15th and 16th Century, the French explorers would navigate all over North America? They would set up forts along the rivers, making it difficult for the English explorers to travel via the waterways.
For instance, Fort Ponchartrain, which was built in Detroit by the French settlers back in 1701, is a good example. The French soldiers built a fort on that specific location to secure the fur trade in the Great Lakes area, and prevent the English and the Iroquois from taking the land. The city’s name, which comes from the word “détroit”, is used in the French language to describe an area where the water narrows between two water areas. Back then, the rivers were the highways of the time for both the Native Indians and the Europeans, and the ones who would control them would certainly have a strategic advantage over trade and transportation. As roads and travel infrastructures were minimal inland, the fastest way to get around was over water.
Tip for teachers! Ask your students if they can think of other cities that were built by the rivers.