George Washington Trail In West Virginia
GEORGE WASHINGTON, JAMES RUMSEY & THE POTOMAC CANAL
George Washington focused on filling the western wilderness with prosperous industry and communities from the beginning. He supported early iron smelting and became a strong supporter of inventor James Rumsey.
George Washington established the Potomac Navigation Company to build a canal along the Potomac River as a way west. His plan failed although a successor company -- the C&O Canal -- did accomplish the feat a generation later and remains as a National Park today.
George Washington met inventor James Rumsey in Bath -- now Berkeley Springs -- during one of Washington's regular visits to take the waters of the warm mineral springs. Rumsey owned the Inn at the Liberty Pole and Flag where Washington stayed. Rumsey wanted a letter from Washington supporting his boat invention; Washington wanted Rumsey to build him a house in Berkeley Springs. A deal was made.
This meeting is memorialized in the Rumsey exhibit at the Museum of the Berkeley Springs and in a prize-winning play -- "The Deal" -- presented occasionally in Berkeley Springs.
After this meeting, Washington hired inventor James Rumsey to design locks and manage the Potomac Navigation Company.
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