In March of 1775 Daniel Boone and 30 axe men left Long Island of the Holston to create a 200 mile road into the wilderness of Kentucky. This road, known as the Boone Trace, would carry pioneers to a remote settlement beyond the Appalachians.
In the next few years this settlement, known as Fort Boonesborough, was an outpost of hardship. A revolutionary war battle and regular predation by indians left the pioneers struggling for basic necessities. My fifth great-grandfather, Joshua Penix, was one of those settlers. He was 19 in 1779 when he and others signed documents to seek relief from Virginia and to establish Boonesborough as a permanent town. The American dream was growing and Boone Trace was the path to get there.
I thought it would be interesting to travel the road my ancestor had traveled. Even though this road helped to carry 300,000 pioneers into the land we now know as Kentucky, it does not exist today as a singular route. Much of the old path has been paved over as residential streets or 2 lane highway. The portions which followed creeks were abandoned for wider roadways and left to grow over. Much has been tilled under for agriculture. Most of the original Boone Trace has been lost the way an artist would paint over the original painting on a canvas. In order to walk with Joshua, I need to peel back the layers of new paint to reveal the original masterpiece that Boone and his men created.
My intention is to walk this 200 mile path from Kingsport, TN to Fort Boonesborough, KY. My hike will begin on March 10th. Over the course of 16 days I’ll travel as close as possible to the actual route that Daniel Boone and his men created. Thanks to the work of Neal O. Hammon in the late 1960’s we now have a map detailing Boone Trace.
I’m hoping to get a taste of the hardships Joshua and the other pioneers experienced, minus the Indian attacks and smelly buckskin clothing. Unlike Joshua I won’t have the advantage of a horse and large groups of men to travel along side. However, my advantages are modern clothing, pack gear, prepackaged foods and a two way satellite communicator.
You can follow my journey via email, facebook, or twitter. Connect through the links at the right of this page.