Fayette County Cultural Trust - Explore Fayette County Pennsylvania
Brownsville, Pennsylvania
Because of the mysterious mounds believed to be a prehistoric fortification by colonial settlers, Brownsville began as Redstone Old Fort and later in the 1760s – 70s eventually became known as Redstone Fort or by the mid-1760s, Fort Burd — named eponymously after the officer commanding the forts establishment in 1759. The fort was constructed on the bluff above the river on what may have been a fortification or burial ground of native peoples during the French and Indian War, and which stockade was later occupied and garrisoned by a force from the Colony of Virginia during the 1774 Indian war known as Lord Dunmore's War, as it was situated at the important strategic end of Nemacolin's Trail, the western part to the summit — which when improved, later became known as 'Burd's Road' — an alternative route down to the Monongehela River valley from Braddock's Road, which George Washington helped to build. Washington also came to own vast portions of the lands on the opposite bank — in honor of which, Pennsylvania named Washington County, the largest of the state.
A forward thinking entrepreneur named Thomas Brown acquired the lands in what became Fayette County around the end of the American Revolution. He realized the Opening of the Cumberland Gap and wars end made the land at the western tip of Fayette County a natural springboard to settle points west such as Ohio, Tennessee, and the in-fashion destination of the day, Kentucky — all reachable via the Ohio River and its tributary the Monongahela. The sparse primitive settlement at the time around the fort was mostly called Redstone, but eventually became known as Brownsville, as the land became owned by Thomas Brown by the 1780s when Jacob Bowman bought the land on which Nemacolin Castle was constructed, beginning his trading post and a business expansion of settler services providers as foreseen by Thomas Brown. Since Redstone had been a frequent point of embarkation for travelers who were heading west via the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers it became a natural center for the construction of many keel-boats — even those heading for the far west via the Santa Fe Trail or Oregon Trail as floating on a poleboat even against hundreds of miles of river current was usually safer, easier and far faster than overland travel. The major attraction of these early settlers to Brownsville was twofold. One, Brownsville was positioned at the western end of the primitive road network (Braddock's Road to Burd's Road via the Cumberland pass) that eventually became known as the National Pike, U.S. Route 40. The other was the Redstone Creek and terraced banks gave easy access to the wide and deep Monongahela River where a vast flatboat building industry — that later evolved into the largest steamboat industry developed during the 19th century — was already well established. This access to the river provide a "jumping off" point for settlers headed into the western frontier. The .Monongahela converges with the Ohio River at Pittsburgh and allowed for quick traveling to the western frontier.
Bowman's Castle
Also known as Nemacolin Castle
Front St., Brownsville