Skip to main content

What is/was the Boone Trail Highway

A few weeks ago, I came across this interesting marker in Hillsborough.

IMG_1406

It notes the starting point of an expedition that included Daniel Boone. But there was more on the back....

IMG_1409

...an iron cast marker for the Boone Trail Highway. That's where the fun begins. One of the things I enjoy most about my hobby is discovering something I wasn't aware of and being able to learn the history behind it. I always have considered the hobby a research project without a due date.

So of course, curiosity rules the day and I did some quick research and found out a lot about the highway. First, the markers date back to the era of Auto Trails - when regional and cross-country highways went by names not by numbers. And most trails were marked by color schemes.

The Boone Trail Highway is a product of Joseph Hampton Rich - from Mocksville, NC - who wanted to keep the memory of Daniel Boone's travels in the automobile age. From 1913 to 1938, he successfully erected 358 metal tablets from Virginia Beach to San Francisco.

Rich tied the promotion of the route with the need for good roads in many parts of the country. The Boone Trail Association promoted the highway through a newsletter. Unlike a similar route from the auto-route era, the Daniel Boone Trail that ran from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast, it doesn't appear that there was a definite route to the Boone Trail Highway.

From preliminary research of the highway, from Virginia westward to Kentucky the highway zig-zags wildly. In North Carolina, there are markers in Boonville, Hillsborough, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, Wilkesboro, Blowing Rock, and through Watuga County. In Virginia, Abingdon, Hillsville, and Wytheville. The markers were also placed in Johnson City, TN and Berea, KY. Markers were also placed and still can be found in Massachusetts.

The Boone Trail Highway spurred the interest of Everett G. Marshall - who wrote a book documenting Joseph Rich and the Boone Trail Highway titled, "Rich Man: Daniel Boone". It's a bit lengthy at 300 pages, but I am going to look for and purchase a copy.

The markers themselves have an interesting story - most of the cast iron came from the battleship USS Maine. Some are still in their original location -others preserved and moved elsewhere within the town. Sadly, some have been sold at auction.

Have you photographed any remnants of the Boone Trail Highway or any of the markers? I'd love to know.

Comments

Unknown said…
J. Hampton Rich was establishing a MEMORIAL highway (along existing routes) rather than marking any historic travels of Daniel Boone. This memorial highway generally ran east to west, coast to coast. Mr. Rich placed his markers on "cross links" or intersecting routes that accounts for many tablets off the main east-west highway. He was promoting better roads in an era when heritage tourism was just beginning. The book, "Rich Man: Daniel Boone" is available only from the author at boonehwy1913@gmail.com.
Unknown said…
I have a photograph of one that is near our house it is on Lexington Road in Louisville Kentucky on the side of the road near the Louisville Baptist seminary. Give me an email address and I will send you a photograph.
Adam said…
Hi my email is aprince27 at gmail dot com. You can also access it via my bio.
Anonymous said…
there is a marker in staley n c beside old us 421

Popular posts from this blog

History of the Big Oak Flat Road (Yosemite National Park)

This week I hiked much of what was the original alignment of the Big Oak Flat Road which is located to the north of the modern roadway.  Unlike the original alignment of the Wawona Road the Old Big Oak Flat Road is surprisingly intact.


The complete history of the Big Oak Flat Road including the original alignment can be found on a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road.

U.S. Department of the Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road

The Big Oak Flat Road began construction east from the mining community of Big Oak Flat in towards Yosemite Valley in 1869.  The Big Oak Flat Road was constructed by the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company which had secured the franchise rights for a toll road to the Yosemite Grant (the designation prior to Yosemite National Park).  By the summer of 1871 the Big Oak Flat Road reached the northern cliffs above Yosemite Valley which is when the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company ran out of funding.  After the…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack from the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared the road to Tioga Pass.  That being the case I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.


The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road at Crane Flat east to US Route 395 ("US 395").  The Tioga Pass Road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is maintained by Caltrans as California State Route 120 ("CA 120") east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The National Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highway mountain pass in California reaching Tioga Pass at 9,945 feet above sea level.



Part 1; the history of the Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass first obtained notewort…

Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.


Horseshoe Meadows Road is located west of Lone Pine of Inyo County and is 19.7 miles in length.  Horseshoe Meadows Road begins at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level at Whitney Portal Road in the Alabama Hills and ends at an elevation of 10,072 feet above sea level in Horseshoe Meadows.  Horseshoe Meadows Road is the second highest paved road in California only behind Rock Creek Road near Tom's Place.  Pjammcycling rates Horseshoe Meadows Road with an average gradient of 6.2% and lists it as th…