Attention: Kingsport, TN Area

Attention all who live in the Kingsport, TN area:

May 2nd is the season opener of the Netherland Inn Museum. WALK ON over (or drive) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and take a tour of the museum and grounds to learn about our pioneer history.
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland InnPhoto Credit: Amber Penix

Netherland Inn
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

On the grounds of the Netherland InnPhoto Credit: Amber Penix

On the grounds of the Netherland Inn
Photo Credit: Amber Penix

Dr. John Fox and I will be hanging out in the Daniel Boone cabin to talk with all who are interested in the progress that is being made toward Boone Trace becoming a hike-able/drive-able historic experience.

History is being made everyday, come be a part of it.

Walk on,

Curtis

 

Today’s Celebrations

Givan and I will work on our final recollections of our journey and get it out in the next day or two.  We will also put a page on the website and facebook with a full pictorial of the entire trip.  But for now I’ll share the events of today, our last day on Boone Trace.

Givan and I walked into the Fort to a group of people, some of which I didn’t expect.  Kimberly and the kids were there. Levi ran up to me calling for Papa.  My friend from Michigan, who has hiked many a trail with me in the past, Marty Uhlik, and his wife, Joelle, surprised me.  A couple mis-placed Michiganders, that now call Kentucky home, and who I had spent many years in ministry with joined us; Paul and Ann Borgquist.  Many new friends that Givan and I made along our journey were in attendance as well.

Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Papa! Where have you been?Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Papa! Where have you been?
Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Also waiting for us was our Sherpa and guide, Dr. John Fox.  It has been his dream for years to see someone walk “that little road” again.  His son Givan and I made that dream come true.  I am proud to say I was able to help fulfill that dream.

Curt Penix, Givan Fox, John Fox Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Curt Penix, Givan Fox, John Fox
Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Cameras were working overtime to get the shot of these road weary modern-day pioneers.  There were lots of pats on the back.

Interview TimeLeft to Right: Kim Penix, Curtis Penix, Amber Penix, Austin Penix, John Fox, Givan Fox Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Interview Time<br / >Left to Right: Kim Penix, Curtis Penix, Amber Penix, Austin Penix, John Fox, Givan Fox
Photo Credit: Ann Borgquist

Givan and I left the original site of the Fort and walked up the hill into the new Fort.  Two re-enactors dressed in period appropriate attire fired their rifles as we entered the gates.  We went into the orientation center where several organizations honored us with plaques and gifts.  The greatest of which was the highest honor bestowed by the state of Kentucky; we were named Kentucky Colonels.

This may be the end of our adventure on Boone Trace but is the beginning for many people who want to come to eastern Kentucky and learn about this great piece of American history.

Forty-seven million people in our nation are descendants of someone who came through Cumberland Gap and walked this road.  Are you one of them?

Walk on,

Curtis

The Adventure Isn’t Over

What has happened in the past 16 days has been much more than I had planned. But that’s what adventure is about. You allow yourself to wander out of your comfort zone, to go someplace you have never been and handle whatever the situation throws at you.

Givan and I have climbed mountains and walked through mud. Our legs ached from too much blacktop and we’ve had times where the miles were just about breaking us. Briars pulled at us and we learned to read which dogs were just making noise and which ones might be more than just noise. We smelled bad and we forgot what it felt like to not wear a 40 pound pack. The scenery was splendid and prehistoric and suburban and mean and welcoming and scary and too steep and just right as a backdrop for doing something that wasn’t just everyday.

The pioneer spirit does not need to be just history and Boone Trace does not need to be a road that “use to be” traveled. Both need to be preserved. Join the Friends of Boone Trace facebook page to learn how to travel this road again.

As for the pioneering spirit, that would be up to you to step out and redefine your life. Walk up to that barrier where your comfort zone ends. Study it for a moment, then bend over and with both hands lift it up, walk forward and put it in a new place. Then be sure to tell others how it was much more than you planned, cause that’s what we call an adventure.

Walk on!

Curtis

Day 16 – Restoring A Classic

Just six miles from the steel mill I work at is The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. It is rivaled only by the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in it’s collection of artifacts representing American culture and ingenuity. The steel mill where I am employed , at one time, was the largest single manufacturing complex in the world. In southeast Michigan we have a world class hospital system with research and teaching in the latest advancements in medicine. All of which were started by the auto tycoon Henry Ford.

To look at the one item that started it all, that spark that ignited this multi-billion dollar, 119 year old empire, we need to go back to the museum. Now the Henry Ford Museum is much more than automotive history but the car collection is naturally a central display. The machines are arranged so the viewer can walk along and view the evolution of the automobile, and the very first in line is Ford’s quadricycle. After two years of tinkering, Henry built this first combustion engine horseless carriage in his garage in 1896. He went on to build two more and sell them for $200 each. Eventually he bought one back for $65.

When Ford bought it back I imagine it had some wear and rust and maybe some missing parts. Maybe the paint was chipping and the engine needed tuned up, but he new it had to be restored. The only remaining Ford Quadricycle today sits polished and protected. People wearing clean gloves tend to it and keep it looking like it did in 1896.

A single item like a 19th century car may have gone through a few owners. From Ford to his customer, back to Ford and finally to the museum. An 18th century road can not so easily be contained.

Boone Trace started with no owner but was traveled by thousands. Today its remnants have many owners and is traveled by no one. But it can still be restored.

In the last 16 days we have connected the forgotten portions to the already known paths. We walked in the shadows of the mountains and waded many of the cold streams that Grandpa Joshua and the other pioneers waded. Givan, myself and you cyber hikers have had a grand adventure on the road that gave us the “west” and the “American Dream” and we should not be the only ones.

Just as the Natchez Trace, Lewis and Clark Trail, Overmountain National Historic Trail and other historic routes are travel-able paths today, it seems only fitting that Boone Trace should be included. Boone Trace needs to have many footprints on it again. Footprints from the estimated 47 million descendants whose ancestors first saw the beautiful land of “Kantucke” looking west from the saddle of Cumberland Gap. Footprints of school children who need to learn the history, victorious and tragic, of how their country grew. Footprints of a lone traveler looking for inspiration and to echo the words of Daniel Boone:

“One day I undertook a tour through the country, and the diversity and beauties of nature I met with in this charming season, expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought.”

Walk on,

Curtis

Q & A Time

We are only one and a half days away from wrapping this expedition up. We’ve seen some beautiful country and some historic sites. Sometimes the walking was hard and dangerous and sometimes it was hard and not so dangerous.
Givan and I have not had much time or battery power to address many of the questions our cyber hikers have been posting. So if you have any question at all, send it to lostinthewander@gmail.com and Givan and I will do our best to answer them all.
Walk on,
Curtis

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Day 15 – Twetty’s Fort

Felix Walker (one of the axe men) March 23rd 1775

“Began to discover the rapturous appearance of the plains of Kentucky….So rich a soil we have never seen before; covered with clover in full bloom, the woods were abounding in wild game – turkeys so numerous that it might be said they appeared but one flock, universally scattered in the woods.”

Walker’s thrill of this new land was greatly challenged two days later when, just before dawn, Indians attacked the sleeping men just 15 miles south of their destination. Walker and William Twetty were both severely wounded and another man, Sam, was shot dead, landing in the burning fire pit. The rest of the party fled into the trees but had no chance of returning shots with their rifles. When they gathered back at camp the Indians had fled with a few horses but nothing else.

A small fortification was quickly built over the 2 wounded men for protection in case of a second attack and to better care for them. Other Indian activity was found in the area and Boone decided to stay put till Walker and Twetty could be moved the last 15 miles. A couple days latter Twetty died and was buried. On April 1st, Walker was carried by a ladder suspended between 2 horses and Daniel Boone and his axe men finished their journey to the banks of the Kentucky River.

Today, the location of Twetty’s fort is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is a one acre parcel just south of the city of Richmond. This land is surrounded by a housing development, farmland and is not far from a U.S. Army chemical storage depot.

Thanks to the DAR, Givan and I will be spending the night on the very spot Twitty and Sam died in that attack. A small stone monument stands on a stone base and the grass is groomed low like a suburban yard. A good spot to rest and commit ourselves to finish the journey as did Boone and his men 240 years ago.

Our journey is almost over and the last 15 or so miles will be easy walking. We plan on dividing that distance over 2 days.

Walk on,

Curtis

Day 14 – Goodnight all!

Berea is a unique town for the reasons I wrote of earlier and many more.  It is poised to become a major trail town because two major paths cross here. Boone Trace passes from south to north and the National Bike Trail crosses east to west. The town is making great progress in establishing trails in town as well as the surrounding area.

John, Givan and I had the privilege of addressing Berea’s Trail Town committee and a class of entrepreneur students from Berea College who are working to make it happen. John spoke of the history and importance of Boone Trace, Givan spoke of the lessons he and I have learned on our expedition, and I spoke about what it means to let yourself get lost in the wander. After the formal speaking, we milled around and spoke to the students and trail committee members, fielding questions on all aspects of our expedition.

No doubt this little walk of ours can be a catalyst to move forward what is already happening in the towns along the trace.

14 days and approximately 200 miles behind us. 3 days and 30 some miles to go and this one’s a wrap.

Walk on,
Curtis

P.S.  This is not a chalk outline of a turtle murder. Sheltowee Trace hiking path shares part of Boone Trace’s path and the turtle marks the Shaltowee. That was the name given to Daniel Boone by the Shawnee Indian chief, Blackfish, when Boone was captured in 1778. The word means “big turtle”.

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Day 14 – At the top of Boone Gap

You can pass through Boone Gap by driving up Hwy 25E. But what fun is that? Other than the hwy and the railroad, a marshy, muddy gully leads up to the natural funnel that the mountains make. Givan and I fought our way through the brambles and mud to reach the top. There we were met by 2 reporters for pictures and interviews.
Givan and I are getting use to the paperazzi but we will try to not let it change us.
This is the top of Boone Gap.
Walk on,
Curtis

Boone GapPhoto Credit: Curtis Penix

Boone Gap
Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Day 14 – Berea

Walking began at 8:05 a.m.

We continue north on the actual route of Daniel Boone. There are just a handful of places where we can say 100% it is the ground Boone traveled on and this is one of them. We left the town of Wildie this morning and have been walking in a long valley along the Roundstone Creek and between the mountains. At the north end of this lowland, the mountains close in, the Roundstone ends and we find ourselves at a natural funnel leading out of the furrow. Today it is known as Boone Gap.

A roadside park is in the planning stages to give travelers driving up Hwy 25 a rest stop and view of this historic pioneer pathway. A stone wall built many decades ago overlooks the gully that Boone walked up and a plaque commemorating the spot has been newly mounted. I, like Boone and his men, have fought approximately 170 miles to get to this spot and the end is not far.

Just north of Boone Gap is the town of Berea. In 1850 the area was called the Glades and consisted of scattered farms with citizens sympathetic to emancipation. Cassius Marcellus Clay, a wealthy abolitionist, gave Reverend John Gregg Fee a tract of land for the purpose of establishing 2 churches, a small village and Berea College, which remains the central fixture of the town today. In 1855 it was the only integrated coeducational college in the south and the towns abolitionist reputation was well known and welcomed freed African-Americans to educate and improve their lives.

In 1859 pro-slavery supporters ran John Fee, and other abolitionists, out of Berea as pro and anti-slavery ideals clashed leading up to the Civil War. After the war was over, Fee returned and doubled his efforts to educate and create opportunities for the now free population of blacks in Kentucky.

Berea College continues today as a tuition-free institution offering a 4 year education to all promising students regardless of need. The town and college are an epicenter for interest in the culture and traditions of Appalachia by writers, academics, missionaries and teachers. The community is abounding in traditional Appalachian crafts and music.

Boone, throughout his life was know as a friend to all manner of men. He believed in the teachings of his Quaker upbringing that all men have “the light of God” in them and are loved by the creator. Boone was a friend to Indians and only fought when necessary as his charm and friendly demeanor served him well in most situations. In Boone’s last years in Missouri his good friend, and the man he chose as his hunting partner, was Derry Coburn. Derry was known by Boone’s family to be a “man of the same peculiar disposition which characterized Daniel Boone, non-communicative on subjects of his exploits.” When on the hunt Derry and Boone did not need to talk as talking would spoil the chances of success. They could understand what each was thinking without talking. In the woods together, Boone was not an 80 year old pioneer and Derry was not a 23 year old negro slave, as anyone would assume at sight of them, they were hunting buddies.

This evening Givan, John, and I have the honor to speak to a group in Berea who are working on a plan to draw in people who want to learn more about this trail and historic pioneer life. We’re looking forward to it!

Walk on,

Curtis

Day 13 Recap

3:38 p.m.

If you’ve been watching the map you’ll notice the “ping” dots are closer together. I changed the SC to mark every 10 min. rather than every 20 to give us more detail on this section. We are deep in the forest on only 2 track or foot path. We are not on original Boone Trace because the railroad has laid their track directly on top of Boone’s road. We are across the river which is as close as law will allow.
We followed a dry creek bed for awhile earlier. It was along some of the original trace that continued to be used as a county road until the mining operation at Mullins Station went out of business.
Walk on,
Curtis

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

 

7:09 p.m.

 

We’ve had cool but sunny weather to hike in today. Rockcastle county has some of the most scenic portions of the trace. Lots of backcountry trails and what blacktop there is, is all country roads. The lower miles gives us a chance to think more about what we’re doing and not just surviving till the next stop.

Looking back at the past Kentucky miles, we know this route can become a draw for anyone wanting to learn and experience pioneer life. We just need to find a few detours off some of the busy roads and into the prettier country like what Rockcastle has to offer. Tomorrow night Givan, John and I have the chance to speak to a crowd in Berea that want to do just that. Berea has already made steps to become a trail town and hopefully we can help that along.

Sleeping in the pavillion of Wildie Christian Church tonight.

Walk on,
Curtis