History Of Cumberland Gap Trail

Dan Boone blazed the Cumberland Gap wilderness trail through the gap. Many men, women, and chidren crossed the Gap between 1775 and 1810.

Daniel Boone was not the founder of The Cumberland Gap. It is located near Middlesboro, Kentucky. Dr. Thomas Walker, a Virginia physician who became an explorer, discovered Cumberland Gap in 1750. Walker named the Gap Cave Gap when he discovered it. A lot of hunters, like Daniel Boone, used the Gap to reach the Kentucky hunting grounds. Kingsport, Tennessee was commonly known as the Wilderness Trail, which ran through Cumberland Gap to Kentucky. The Gap was widened in 1796 in order to allow Conestoga Wagons to travel through.

History has revealed wind and water carved the Gap. A large amount of game animals used the Gap during their migration.

Over 100,000 people had passed through the Gap by the time Kentucky admission to the Union. The Gap was being used for commerce and transportation by the 1800's. But the Gap declined in importance during the 1830's. Keystone of the Confederacy and the Gibraltar of America were phrases used in reference to the Gap during the Civil War. With the invasion of the North and South, both armies felt the invasion would route through the Gap. But that never occurred.

Daniel Boone, accompanied by woodsmen, marked a 200-mile trail passing through the Appalachian Mountains. Twin mile-long tunnels were constructed beneath the rock of this pass more than two centuries later. In 1996 the tunnels opened at cost of $250 million. It seems that Daniel Boone was never paid for this work.

After Walker passed through, Boone and his woodsmen were sent through the gap to mark a trail for settlers bound for Kentucky. Of course, Boone was already familiar with the territory because of his earlier hunting expeditions. He knew of the dangers that the Indians could make for him. While John Stewart, a good friend of Boone, and Boone were on an expedition in Kentucky, John Stewart disappeared. For five years the disappearance of Stewart was a mystery. The truth was told when a skeleton was found with a powder horn bearing Stewart's initial on Boone's Wilderness Road. Once again, Boone felt another loss in 1773, when he tried establishing a settlement in Kentucky. Indians who killed several people including the son of Daniel Boone attacked a section of the expedition.

Since Cherokees killed more than 100 travelers during 1784 on the Kentucky side of the Gap, settlers would travel in large groups for safety. Between 200,000 and 300,000 men, women, and children crossed the Gap from 1775 to 1810.

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