GREAT MINQUA PATH
This 17th-century trade route ran through southeastern Pennsylvania—from the Susquehanna River, near Washington Boro, to the Schuylkill River, opposite Philadelphia, where it meets the Delaware River. This 80-mile trail was the primary fur trading route for the Minquas (better known as the Susquehannock).
The Dutch began trading with the Susquehannock for fur in the 1620s. They named the trail “Beversreede” (Beaver Road). At some point after 1633, they built a trading fort at the eastern terminus of the route, naming it, not surprisingly, Fort Beversreede. The Delaware knew it as Fort Manayunk.
In 1634, the Susquehannock took advantage of the route during their conquest of the Lenni-Lenape (Delaware). It was originally the Lenni-Lenape who named the Susquehannock “Minqua,” meaning ‘treacherous.’ The Dutch adopted that moniker and the Swedes followed the trend.
The Swedes, around 1638, founded a colony, New Sweden, about 20 miles south of the Dutch trading fort (present-day Wilmington, Delaware). But, this clever ploy to circumvent trading with the Dutch failed. When the Swedes became even bolder and built a blockhouse directly in front of the Dutch fort. This time it worked and caused the Dutch to abandon the fort by 1651. Not forgetting, the Dutch returned four years later and took control of New Sweden, renaming it New Netherlands.
The English came on the scene in 1664 and conquered the Dutch. Some years later, it became part of William Penn’s land grant. To confuse matters further, the English referred to the Susquehannock as the Conestogas, after their main settlement in Manor Township. The trade route eventually became almost irrelevant due to the Susquehannock’s unending conflicts with the growing European settlers and the Iroquois, and the onslaught of smallpox. With many settlers moving further west, the trading route dried up. By 1763, the Paxton Boys’ massacre of 20 members all but ended them as a people. But, not forgotten.