Junction with US 25 -- Pineville -- Middlesboro -- Cumberland Gap -- (Tazewell, Tenn.); US 25E.
Junction with US 25 to Tennessee Line, 54.4 m.
Louisville & Nashville R.R. parallels route throughout.
All types of accommodations in towns; limited elsewhere.
Through Cumberland Gap at the southern end of US 25E, and over the route now followed in part by US 25E, came the first western surge of Kentucky pioneers, singly or in small groups, attracted by tales of fertile land yet unclaimed, of springs and brooks and rivers, of plentiful game and endless adventure.
Daniel Boone and his companions, sponsored by Col. Richard Henderson, became the advance guard for this westward movement, when in 1775 they marked the way to the site of what was to become Fort Boonesboro (see Tour 17A). Boone's Trace was not a new trail through the wilderness; it was a combination of paths long used by the buffalo and Indians, and later by French hunters and trappers. North of Cumberland Gap, for about 50 miles, Boone followed the Warriors Path -- which extended from the Shawnee villages on the Ohio and Scioto Rivers to the Cherokee country of the south -- then selected a buffalo trace that took him westward to Rockcastle River, up Roundstone Creek, through the gap in Big Hill, and down Otter Creek to the Kentucky River.
In the same year Benjamin Logan marked and improved a trail to the site of St. Asaph (see Tour 3), a track that branched westward from Boone's Trace at Rockcastle River, extended to the site of present Crab Orchard, and on to the Falls of the Ohio ( Louisville). Logan's trail, which became more important than Boone's Trace, was referred to as "the road through the great wilderness," and finally the Wilderness Road. As early as 1779 the Virginia Assembly passed an act providing for improvement of the Wilderness Road. Similar acts were passed by the Kentucky Legislature in 1795 and 1797, but it remained little more than a pack road until 1818, when definite steps were taken to widen it and to improve the fords.
The southern section of the Wilderness Road (paved US 25E) still passes through a land of mountains veined with mineral deposits, of rivers and ravines, of woods and flowers. But generations of white men have cleared and cultivated much of its fertile land and mined its