Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail

The first route over Cumberland Gap was the Indian “Warrior’s Path,” used by Daniel Boone to explore the land beyond the mountains before 1770. Richard Henderson, a claimant to large holdings in the West, commissioned Boone to quickly open a path or trace over the Cumberland Gap in 1775. This was improved by the state five years later and replaced in 1794 by a new wagon road to the Gap. This wagon road was the principal route used by settlers for more than fifty years to reach Kentucky from the East. Over 200,000 pioneers came over the “Wilderness Road,” enduring severe hardships, including Indian attack, cold, and hunger. In 1958, the National Park Service opened the original route of the “Great Kentucky Road” through the gap, to be used as an interpretive trail.

Today, the Cumberland Gap is the center of a cluster of historic sites, reconstructed forts and museums devoted to the interpretation of the migration of settlers through the Appalachian Mountains. The rugged mountain region itself is rich in musical, historical, and craft traditions, many of which are accessible to the visitor.


Homeplace Mountain Farm and Museum

Rt. 224, Gate City, Virginia

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Scott County was formed by an act of the General Assembly on November 24, 1814, from parts of Washington, Lee, and Russell Counties, and was named for General Winfield Scott. This living history museum depicts an 1840s farmstead in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. The collection of authentic structures and artifacts has been assembled here from their original locations throughout Scott County.

Moccasin Gap

Route 58 between Weber City and Gate City, Virginia

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Before Europeans improved it as the road to Kentucky, the main trail connecting the Cherokee Indians in the Great Smoky Mountains with the Shawnee in Ohio ran through Moccasin Gap on its way to Cumberland Gap. Settlers started coming through Moccasin Gap toward Kentucky in spite of the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber, causing the Shawnee to start Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774. During the Cherokee Wars from 1777 to 1794, settlers were often ambushed at Moccasin Gap.

Natural Tunnel State Park/Wilderness Road Blockhouse

1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway, Duffield, Virginia

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Natural Tunnel State Park is named after the one-million-year-old cave which runs under Purchase Ridge, allowing Stock Creek to go in one side and out the other. A railroad has taken advantage of this natural passage to follow the path of the creek, and daily coal trains can be seen roaring through the tunnel. The Wilderness Road Blockhouse erected at Natural Tunnel State Park in 2003 is typical of the blockhouses that were manned by the Holston Militia during the frontier conflict between the Indians and settlers.

Kane Gap (Daniel Boone Birding and Wildlife Trail)

Fraley Avenue, Duffield, Virginia

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This natural notch was a welcome sight to travelers on the Wilderness Trail. It was through this gap that countless thousands trudged as they made their way westward. The notch can be seen from the Powell Mountain Overlook west of Duffield on Rte 58, or visitors can climb to the gap along the Daniel Boone Trail, a section of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. The trail also gives access to Ruffed Grouse breeding grounds, sightings of wintering shorebirds and views of the yearly hawk migrations.

Lee County Historical Society (Old Friendship Baptist Church)

554 Old Friendship Road, Jonesville, Virginia

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The Town of Glade Spring was laid out in 1794. The Lee County Historical Society promotes the study and preservation of the history of Lee County. Located in the Old Friendship Baptist Church Building approximately 4 miles west of the county seat at Jonesville, the society’s records can be used by appointment. The nearby Jonesville Methodist Campground was established in 1810 for outdoor revival meetings. Campgrounds were founded across the region as part of a widespread growth in religious fervor. The well-preserved auditorium was opened in 1828.

Wilderness Road State Park/Martin’s Station Living History Park

8051 Wilderness Road, Ewing, Virginia

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A tract in the Powell Valley was originally settled by Joseph Martin, who arrived in March of 1769 after a difficult journey to claim 21,000 acres as the first settler on land granted to the Loyal Land Company. Boone found Martin already in place at his station when he made the trip into Kentucky in the spring of 1775. Wilderness Road State Park features a reconstruction of Martin’s Station and a visitor center located in the 1877 Ely House.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park/Daniel Boone Visitor Center/White Rocks Overlook

91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, Kentucky

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Cumberland Gap was the only easily accessible pass through the Alleghany Mountains. Prior to 1750, it was used by Indians moving from area to area in trading, hunting, or war parties. Daniel Boone was commissioned to open a trail through the gap, known as “Boone’ s Trace.” During the 1790s a mass of immigrants passed through Cumberland Gap at the rate of nearly 100 per day, looking for available land in the west. The Daniel Boone Visitor Center houses a museum, interpretive films, and handmade crafts from the region.