American Heritage: Crossing the riverPublished 10:48pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012
More trials were ahead for Washington and Gist. After continuing on with their journey back to Dinwiddie with the answer to his letter, they realized travel wasn’t going any easier.
George and Gist traveled through the night after the incident with the Indian who shot at them. They were sure that he would follow them and make another attempt on their lives.
Finally, they arrived at the Allegheny River. Upon arriving, they had another problem. They thought, for sure, the river would be frozen over, and that being so, they could cross the river on ice.
Instead, the river was only frozen out about 50 feet from the shore. From there to the other side was just water and chunks of ice until they would get to within 50 feet of the shore.
Now they had to decide how to get across the dangerous river that stood in their way of completing their journey. The answer was obvious. If they were to cross the river, they had to make a raft. The only tool they had in their possession was “one poor hatchet,” in the words found in their journal. So, the work began. They began to cut down trees and tie them together. It took the whole day, but the raft was complete.
They soon found out their problems were not over yet. Washington states in his journal that when they got half way across the river, their raft became hung up in the ice. He states he was sure the raft would be ripped apart and it would sink and they would be killed. Washington tried to save the situation by sticking his pole into the river to try to push off and break free of the ice.