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The Portage Escarpment is one of the defining features of our region, a clear divide that marks the boundary between the Allegheny Plateau and the Great Lakes Basin. It is perhaps best seen along NY Route 394 between Mayville and Westfield which follows approximately the path of the Portage Trail.
For hundreds of years Indians shouldered their canoes and mounted a wellworn trail between the shores of Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake. This all-important land route was steep but short and opened up a vast territory, connecting the Great Lakes country with the Allegheny-Ohio-Mississippi River system.
This same route was traveled in 1749 by Captain Celoron de Blainville, who was sent by the governor-general of New France (Canada) to claim French possession of the Ohio Valley.
The escarpment has many outstanding places for enjoying the view. It is dissected by several streams with deep gorges that have been cut through glacial deposits and bedrock since the glaciers receded from the region. The cool ravines provide habitat for a community of living things that still have not been well cataloged.