1839 Northeast Kentucky

When this map was charted, Carter County was still part of Greenup County.

It's a lttle difficult to see on this map, but there is a trail from the southeast through Prestonsburg, West Liberty and Mount Sterling.
This is a very ancient trail which was used by Native Americans and served to connect the Atlantic Southeast with the Ohio River and points north
in Ohio and Indiana. It later served settlers from the central and southern Atlantic Coastal areas seeking land on the 18th century frontier.

Note that Ashland is almost nonexistent, while Greenup and Cattletsburg or major communities. How times have changed.

Kinniconick Creek is featured in central Lewis County. This is probably because the watercourse of this creek passes through relatively flat
terrain from near Carter County all the way to the Ohio River. This was certainly a well known ancient route of travel through this area.

Old Town

North of "Little Sandy" is "Old town" (in present-day Greenup County), which still exists and has its own volunteer fire department.
It would appear that Old Town was "old", even when it was new ;>)
A possible explanation is that the site of Old Town was previously occupied by a Native American settlement, which was referred to as the "old town".

Greenup, Tygarts Creek and Kinniconick

There is a community called "Tygarts Creek" west of Greenup, Ky. that appears to be present-day Triut, Ky. Truit lies on Tygarts Creek and
the map indicates that there was a major trail/road that connected it to Greenup. No known modern day road exists in that area.
The closest existing road is Ky 2 which goes southwest out of Greenup to Carter City, then due south to Olive Hill.
Once Rt 2 has gone through the hills south and west of Greenup, it intersects with the Tygarts Creek valley, which was a well-known principle
thoroughfare in pre-historic times.

The road/trail depicted on this map goes from Greenup more or less directly west to Kinniconick,
a routing that very roughly follows Coal Branch Rd (CR 827) west to KR 7, then Big White Oak Rd (CR 2070) to Horse Hollow Rd., the northwest a short
distance on CR 784 to CR 1021, west to KR 10 to the Garrison area. The present site of Garrison, Ky. corresponds to the community of Kinniconick on this map.

Montgomery County

Two miles southeast of Mt. Sterling (near the "TG" in "MONTGOMERY" lies the site of Morgan's Station, the site of the last organized
Native American Indian raid in Kentucky. The escape route of the attackers led them through the area of Triplett, east through Carter County
at which point they divided, with one group following Tygart's Creek to the Ohio River, the other following the Little Sandy River north.

Bath County

Note that Owingsville was one of the major towns in this part of the state. The trail between Owingsville and Flemingsburg passed through
Sherburne Mills. A remnant of the old community still exists. In 1839, this crossing of the Licking River was no doubt a forde. Later in the 19th century a
very long covered bridge was constructed across the Licking River here. The main road later bypassed the bridge, but bridge remained standing until the
1970's when it was destroyed in a fire started by local boys playing on the bridge. The bridge abutments are all that remain today.
Photos of the bridge may be found elsewhere on this site.

The community of Licking appears to be in the area of present day Salt Lick, Ky., in southeast Bath County.

Rowan County

Moorhead was not yet established in 1839. The community of Triplett appears to be located on the bottomland south of present day Moorhead,
and according to the map, on the other side of Triplett Creek.
The major waterway just south of the community of Licking is the upper reach of the Licking River. The river cut a deep canyon through the hills here
which was flooded by Cave Run Lake in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In prehistoric times, the Licking River was the principle route of
travel between this part of Kentucky and the lower Ohio River.

Little Sandy

Note that the only community within the bounds of present-day Carter County is "Little Sandy", apparently today's Grayson, Ky.

The creek meandering west below "Little Sandy" is probably Barrett Creek. Further south, the next creek entering the Little Sandy River
from the west is probably Little Sinking Creek and a little farther south would be the longer Big Sinking Creek which originates in
modern day Eliott County.

Soldier/Haldeman - Triplett Creek Ridgeline

Note the ridgeline that defines the boundary between Greenup County on the east and Fleming and Bath Counties in the west. This is a natural
"continental divide" in this part of the state and is noticeable as you drive through this area. US Route 60 ascends this ridgeline as it
exits Carter County and enters Rowan County. County Road 474 likewise crosses over it just before it intersects with US 60 just inside Rowan County.

Interestingly, when the railroad right-of-way for the the predecessor of the C&O and CSX Railroads was surveyed, instead of following the main
branch of Tygarts Creek, the right-of-way was routed along CR 474 through Limestone, Lawton and Soldier. This is significant. Railroads are
generally routed along the path of minimal grade change (trains on wet rails don't like grades).
This fact is one of the reasons for my speculation that the original Native America (and American bison) trail through Carter County
followed this more southerly route paralleling the Soldier Branch of Tygarts Creek.
Contrarily, US 60 engineers chose to follow the more northerly route.

Although, the railroad did have to pass through the ridgeline using Triplett Tunnel, there appears to be a narrow meandering
pathway between the headwaters of Soldier Fork and Triplett Ceek that requires much less climbing than a pathway from the headwaters of the main
channel of Tygarts Creek to Triplett Creek would require.

Where are we?

It's a little difficult to relate the path of Tygarts Creek to todays topography. Around the "E E" in the name "Greenup" on this map
a major tributary joins Tygarts Creek from the west. One possibility is that this is Buffalo Creek, which is formed by Smiths Creek and
the southern branch of Buffalo Creek at Carter City. The general relationships of the creeks fits,
although distances and lengths appear to be inaccurately drawn here.

The sweeping bend in Tygarts Creek on the map in the area of todays Olive Hill is very curious.

My preferred explanation is that the small creek joining Tygarts Creeks north of the sweeping bend is actually the principle creek bed of
todays Tygarts Creek, and what is shown on the map as Tygarts Creek following a "wide sweep" to the east, south and then almost due west is in fact
the Soldier Fork of todays Tygarts Creek.
The wide sweep could be an exageration of the route of Tygarts Creek around Garvins Ridge west of Olive Hill. On the ground,
the sweep of the creek seems greater than it is when rendered on a modern map. Importantly, the Soldier Fork of Tygarts Creek does turn due west
from Olive Hill and its headwaters at the Rowan County line are very near Triplett Creek, just as depicted on his map.

There appears to be a community identified as "Triplett" on the map very near the location of present day Morehead, Ky.

The Midland Trail through Carter County

Resolving this Tygart Creek routing is critcally important because it determines the placement of the original Midland Trail. On this map,
the Midland Trail goes more or less due west from Little Sandy (Grayson), probably along the path of Sinking Creek to the Grahn area, thense along
Cory Branch to the Olive Hill area. Once in Olive Hill, the trail would have either found a way over or around Garvin Ridge, and then followed the
course of Upper Tygart Creek (or Greasy Creek) across the Rowan County line, or alternatively, the Midland Trail could have followed the Soldier
Fork of Tygarts Creek, through Limestone, Lawton and Soldier, then into Rowan County to follow Triplett Creek on to the west.

As it stands, the routing of the original Midland Trail is unresolved.

Map of a slightly larger area of northeast Kentucky


Return to main Carter County page