The Friends of Boone Trace are dedicated to the sole purpose of saving and preserving Boone Trace — the trail blazed by Daniel Boone and his thirty “axemen” in March and April of 1775 from North Carolina, through the Cumberland Gap to Boonesborough.
Their goal is to get local governments to acknowledge, and place historical markers at the sites — and maintain them.
Often referred to as “that little road” — no other road is of greater historical significance to the founding of Kentucky and the opening of the west than Boone’s Trace — and it comes right through the heart of Kentucky. Boone Trace was the first road opened into Kentucky for settlers. Before 1775, travelers to the region had only animal and Indian trails to follow into the west. There were many of these, and Boone seemed to have a knack for navigating them.
The Trace began primarily as a buffalo trail – a meandering trail through the countryside generally following creeks and streams. Boone established his road and thousands of people crossed through the Wilderness heading west to claim land in the new world. Later, with the increase of traffic into Kentucky, the government realized there was a need for a more substantial, permanent road suitable for wagons. James Knox and Joseph Crockett were contracted to provide this new road in 1796. This new way split away from Boone Trace at Old Hazel Patch (now Oakley, Kentucky) and headed west toward Crab Orchard, Stanford, Danville and ultimately Louisville. This road came to be known as the Wilderness Road, so Boone Trace became less travelled. Now it has almost been forgotten.
“This project is invaluable to anyone interested in the history of this area,” said Historian Tim Cornett. “Few realize that all three trails converge here — the Boone Trail, the Wilderness Road and The Boone Trace. The trace comes through the Cumberland Gap into Middlesboro, where it jumps around a bit. It comes down Fitzpatrick Avenue and crosses to the Wilderness Road, and from there it comes through Binghamtown and past the Walmart. On to Pineville it takes in the narrows through downtown Pineville, across the Cumberland Ford on into Flat Lick via what is now old 25E. The trails diverge again at Flat Lick.”
The Daughters of the American Revolution felt the trace was of great historical value 100 years ago, so they placed 14 markers along Boone Trace in 1915. More markers were placed through Kentucky in 1942, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the state by local historical societies. Many of these markers are in danger and go unprotected.
Most of the remaining roads and areas of significance along the trace still go unmarked and more and more areas are lost every year due to development.
“Much of the trail has been obliterated over the years due to road construction and housing and such,” said Cornett. “Conserving what is left is an imperative.”
The public is invited to join the Friends of Boone Trace in the effort to rescue, restore and preserve “that little road” for future generations to come. Membership is free and donations are accepted.
To learn more about Boone Trace and the Friends of Boone Trace, contact their website at boonetrace1775.com or find them on Facebook.
Reach William Tribell at 606-302-9100 or on Twitter @wtribellmdn