Like most major rivers and cities in Ohio, the Mahoning River and its watershed have played a significant role in the development of the city of Youngstown located in the northeast corner of the state.
There is little known of the area we call the Mahoning Valley prior to the white man’s arrival in the mid 1700’s. Most information is speculative at best. According to Joseph Butler, a 1921 historian, “there is neither history nor reliable tradition concerning the inhabitants of the vast territory north of the Ohio River and west of the Alleghany Mountains prior to that time” (1). The area was a lush, fertile flood plain that beckoned tribes of Native Americans passing through from the Ohio River north to settlements located by Cleveland and Detroit.
The name “Mahoning” is derived either from the Native American word Mahoni, signifying “a lick,” or Mahonink, “at the lick”.