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Length of a "league" for LaSalle in 1679

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#1
wetlands

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I'm doing some research on the explorations of Sieur de LaSalle in the American midwest in 1679. Members of his party (Fr. Hennepin, Tonty) mention in their memoirs that LaSalle's party ascended what is now the St. Joseph River of Michigan and Indiana a distance of about 25 leagues, where they portaged to what is now the Kankakee River. I have three questions:

1. Is this the proper forum for such a question? If not, could someone please supply me with the URL of a more appropriate one?

2. In 1679, what was the length of a French league, measured in current U.S. miles?

3. How would the explorers, traveling by canoe up a twisty river, have measured their distance traveled?

Any help you can provide will be appreciated.

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Hans van der Maarel

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Hi wetlands, and welcome to Cartotalk.

In answer to your questions:
  • I think this would be a good place to ask, though there may be more.
  • Given the date of the expedition, I would guess they were using the "lieue de Paris", ~3.898 km or ~2.422 miles. However, it was relatively new by then, introduced in 1674, so there is a chance they used the older "lieue ancienne", ~3.248 km or ~2.018 miles (these units were defined as being resp. 12000 and 10000 "pieds", or feet... 1 French foot = 1.066 Imperial foot). See http://en.wikipedia...._of_measurement for an overview of French units.
  • I think that would depend on the mode of travel and purpose of the expedition. I'm not getting the impression he was primarily concerned with mapping out the continent, and since he was using canooes I guess it's not entirely reliable.

Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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