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

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

The Bayshore Freeway (US Route 101)

The Bayshore Freeway is a 56.4-mile component of US Route 101 located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Bayshore Freeway connects the southern extent of San Jose to the Central Freeway in the city of San Francisco.  The corridor was originally developed as the Bayshore Highway between 1923 and 1937.  The Bayshore Highway would serve briefly as mainline US Route 101 before being reassigned as US Route 101 Bypass in 1938.  Conceptually the designs for the Bayshore Freeway originated in 1940 but construction would be delayed until 1947.  The Bayshore Freeway was completed by 1962 and became mainline US Route 101 during June 1963.   Part 1; the history of the Bayshore Freeway Prior the creation of the Bayshore Highway corridor the most commonly used highway between San Jose and San Francisco was El Camino Real (alternatively known as Peninsula Highway).  The  American El Camino Real  began as an early example of a signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906.  The era of State Highway Mainte

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 41 through Paso Robles

Paso Robles is a city located on the Salinas River of San Luis Obispo County, California.  As originally configured the surface alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 converged in downtown Paso Robles.  US Route 101 originally was aligned through Paso Robles via Spring Street.  California State Route 41 entered the City of Paso Robles via Union Road and 13th Street where it intersected US Route 101 at Spring Street.  US Route 101 and California State Route 41 departed Paso Robles southbound via a multiplex which split near Templeton.   Pictured above is the cover of the September/October 1957 California Highways & Public Works which features construction of the Paso Robles Bypass.  Pictured below is the 1935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County which depicts US Route 101 and California State Route 41 intersecting in downtown Paso Robles.   Part 1; the history of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 in Paso Robles Paso Robles ("Pass of the