History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line

Buffalo Trails Provided First Connection Among States

By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. 

Each state is connected by trails via the buffalo, Native Americans, and the white man. In this segment we shall include some of these pathways as pertaining to Tennessee.

Three stagecoach routes served Jefferson County, Tennessee. Sometime later in the nineteenth century, railroads, canals and riverboats provided transportation for provisions and people. Preceding public transportation, pioneers on foot and horseback followed specific paths into East Tennessee.

From 1740 until the Revolutionary War this migration continued from near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester, Virginia. Many of these hardy frontiersmen pushed on down the Holston Valley into the Cumberland settlements of Tennessee through Cumberland Valley to Big Lick ( Roanoke) Virginia. Thence westward to the headwaters of the Holston River, thence following the Holston Valley to Long Island (Kingsport).

Col. William Byrd, as early as 1760, cut a road following the old buffalo trail from Big Lick, Virginia to Long Island. Virtually all the settlers of southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and Kentucky passed over this route in serach of new lands and eventually new homes. The Lee Highway (US Highway 11) follows this old route for more than 200 miles,

In 1846 the North Carolina legislature passed an act creating Jonathan Creek and Tennessee Mountain Turnpike Company. This road was to be built no less than 12 feet wide and no steeper than a 12 percent grade.

Tolls would r4ange from 75 cents for a six-horse wagon down to a dime for a man or horse, and one cent for each hog or sheep. After exploring and examining for a full five years, the company selected a final route and constructed the highway with minimal difficulty.

The Catalooche Turnpike was the first real wagon road in the Smokies. Travel to and from the county seat still required the better part of three days.

This turnpike, later to be known as the Catalooche Track, ran from Cove Creek Gap at the eastern edge of the present day park, up over the Smokies and down through what was known as the Cosby section of eastern Tennessee. It connected large Indian settlements along the upper French broad River in North Carolina and the important towns on the Tennessee River.

(The following road history was used with permission by Ray Smith: publisher, the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Web Page: SmithDRay's Trails Page)

The Emory and Walton Roads

Again, very possibly, buffalo cut the road for the historic Emory and Walton roads. According to Smith, early travel used by the immigrants traveled to the Cumberland settlements by two main routes. A northern route started south of the Clinch Mountain (near Blaine), crossed the Clinch River (east of Oak Ridge) and continued across the Cumberland Mountains to Standing Stone ( Monterey). A later southern route passed by Knoxville to Kingston as settlements grew in that area, crossed the Clinch River at Southwest Point (near Kingston), and rejoined the northern route at Johnson's Stand near Standing Stone.

The routes again separated near the Cumberland River, with a northern route that crossed the river at Fort Blount near the mouth of Flynn' Creek, and a later southern route then crossed the Cumberland River and terminated at Nashville, The earlier northern route from East to Middle Tennessee followed sections of an old Indian trail known as Tollunteeskee's Trail.

The Cherokees claimed the territory between the Clinch River and a treaty west of Standing Stone ( Monterey), and disputed the right of whites to pass through their land without permission.

The first authorization to clear a trace for a direct route to the Cumberland settlements occurred in 1785, when the North Carolina legislature provided for a force of 300 men to protect the Cumberland settlements. These soldiers were assigned with cutting and clearing a road by the most distinct route, from the lower end of the Clinch Mountain to Nashville. (This route was certainly more logical and shorter than the Wilderness Road, and it would accommodate expected increases in immigration as Revolutionary War veterans claimed their land warrants.)

Apparently little progress was being made on this new roadway, with requests being made for improvements, however, no progress was being made.

North Carolina legislators, in 1787, approved a second road act. Again, an order was in place to carve a new road. An area was cut and cleared from the south end of the Clinch Mountain to Nashville.

Peter Avery blazed a trail to mark the route that crossed the Clinch River near present Oak ridge. It passed through Winter's Gap ( Oliver Springs) and crossed the Emery River near present day Wartburg. As progression evolved, it passed through present day Lansing to Johnson's Stand, followed a ridge to Standing Stone ( Monterey), and then proceeded on to the Cumberland settlements ( Nashville).

The North Carolina legislature passed a third act for a road, in 1788, to the Cumberland Settlements and provided two companies of militia of 40 men each to guard the new settlers.

When the southern route was completed, notice was given in the State Gazette of North Carolina that soldiers had successfully escorted the first party of settlers; date, September 25, 1788. Andrew Jackson also came to the Cumberland settlements during the period to fill an appointment as prosecuting attorney.

With peace assured, the General Assembly turned Walton road into a turnpike in 1801. Requirements for a turnpike included measuring and erecting mileposts on the road and digging and leveling the sides of hills and mountains over which the road passed to a width of 12 feet. Bridges and causeways were to be 12 feet, but on all other ground, the width was to be cut to 15 feet.

The Walton Road, by 1802, was known as a "broad and commodious" turnpike with markers set every there miles. Historical markers frequently recognize the Emory and Walton Roads. At Dixon Springs, a marker memorializes these immigrant trails and the hardy travelers who used them. Just west of Cookville, a marker identifies the Walton Road. At Blaine, a marker locates the beginning of the northern route at the south end of Clinch Mountain. At Oak Ridge, on a section of the earliest (northern) route, a marker for a bridge that was constructed in the early 1900's acknowledges the Emory Road as one of the earliest routes used in the settlement of Middle Tennessee


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