From The Youth's Companion, Or an Historical Dictionary, by Ezra Sampson ©1816
OHIO RIVER, a fine river of the United States of America, which has its source in the Allegany mountains, and is called the Allegany, till its junction with the Mononeahela, at Pittsburgh, where it first receives the name of Ohio. It measures in all its meanders but little short of twelve hundred miles in length, and falls into the Mississippi. It is an excellent river for navigation with large boats, except at the rapids or falls, which are four hundred and eighty-two miles from its confluence with the Mississippi. It is one of the most delightful rivers in the world, whether we consider it for its meandering course through an immense region of forests, for its clean and elegant banks, which afford innumerable pleasant situations for cities, villages, and improved farms, or for its gentle current, clear waters, and smooth bosom which truly entitle it to the name originally given it by the French, of La Belle Review; or the beautiful river. It is a quarter of a mile wide at Pittsburgh.
I don't know about you all but I find that references like these are very telling of the time period and what was important to the people of that period. Note that the canals weren't constructed until 1825 - 1847 for this river.