CDs lead cars along truly historic Sullivan Trail

For the
Pocono Record

You're driving in your car, at or around the speed limit of 40, on Sullivan Trail. It's a hot late-summer day, so you're wearing light clothes, a frosty drink sits in the cup holder and the air conditioner is on full blast.

But what's in the CD player is bringing you back to 1779, when Gen. John Sullivan led his troops from Easton to New York to fight the Iroquois tribe. The three-CD set, "Warrior Road: The Story of Sullivan's March through Pennsylvania," includes guided directions from Easton to Wilkes-Barre, providing driving directions to historical sites.

The effort, ordered by George Washington, targeted the Iroquois because of their alignment with the British during the Revolutionary War.

Wearing cotton uniforms in the midsummer heat, the soldiers slogged through trails that are more like today's hiking trails than today's Sullivan Trail. The journey from Easton to the historical plaque that commemorates the cavalry's campsite called Chowder Camp on Sullivan Trail in Tannersville took the soldiers three days.

The troops, nearly starved, stopped there and made chowder from the trout that they caught in a nearby stream.

Today, a monument stands on the side of the road. It isn't hard to miss, even if you're looking for it. Cars whiz by, and the sound of the development of a construction site can be heard in the distance. More than 200 years ago, it was a different scene.

By the time Washington sent Sullivan on his expedition, most American Indians had left Monroe County, said Amy Leiser, executive director of Monroe County Historical Association. But incidents such as the Wyoming Massacre, a 1778 battle in which Iroquois and British troops killed 360 Americans, contributed to a rising in hostilities.

Other markers in the county that describe early settlers' relationship with the American Indians include the Kresge monument, a depiction of Conrad Kresge with his 12-year-old son, John, in 1757. An American Indian peers from behind a tree, pointing a bow and arrow at John. John was killed by the native. The monument can be found at Salem Union Church in Gilbert.

The Kresge family is one of the area's most famous; Kresgeville and Kmart are both named after it.

Benjamin Franklin even commissioned a fort to protect the area's settlers from American Indians, called Fort Lewis. Only a historical marker stands today, about a mile south of 209 near Kresgeville.

The Sullivan expedition intended to wipe out the natives and cut off their supply of food and crops. "It's not pleasant, but it did help shape the community and the settlers who lived here," Leiser said. "It was a different time. Of course, in 2009, we know it's wrong."

Past Chowder Camp on Sullivan Trail is Hungry Hill, another historical marker that is undergoing renovations. An unnamed Revolutionary War soldier is buried there, from New York's 2nd regiment or New Jersey's 5th regiment. "Regiments encamped here while changing a wilderness road into a military road to pave the way for Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois," the historical marker, erected in 1943, reads.

The soldiers who were on the expedition are listed in a book available at Monroe County Historical Association. Wondering if an ancestor was a Pennsylvania trailblazer on the Sullivan expedition? The historical association also has a library dedicated to genealogical research, called the
Elizabeth D. Walters Library. The library includes census records, funeral home recordings, scrapbooks, newspapers, death records and other documents to trace family lineages.

The CD set and information booklet provides historical context to the expedition. It gives listeners directions to Brinker's Mill in Sciota, where Sullivan and his men rested — then referred to as Sullivan's Store, according to journals owned by Sullivan's officers. It gives information on local museums. And it does it from a 21st-century perspective: a car.

"The Sullivan expedition is a piece of Monroe County history," Leiser said.

The CD set "Warrior Road: The Story of Sullivan's March through Pennsylvania," can be purchased online from
Monroe County Historical Association's gift shop, which features many historical books, CDs and more. Cost is $35.