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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Kanawha Trail Passed Through Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 4 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

I was going through my records a while back, searching for an entirely different subject and ran across a description of the old Kanawha Trace, which ran through Warren County. It could possibly have been a trail that many of the pioneers used from Virginia to the Ohio territory, rather than use Daniel Boone's famed Wilderness Road. Only a few of the Carolina Brethren who followed the Wilderness Road came into Ohio. A known date for use of the Kanawha Trace was in 1806. Many emigrants that traveled to Warren County from Maryland and Pennsylvania tended to use the Old Forbes' Road and Braddock's Road to the Ohio River, and then down river in a flat boat.
Many Dunkers (German Baptist Brethren) and Friends, or Quakers, had major settlements and lived in the north central portion of North Carolina.
There was a Dunker Brethren settlement below Roanoke on the Carolina Road on the front of the Blue Ridge in Franklin and Floyd counties, who emigrated from there to western Ohio. The Kanawha Trace was the route used.
It seems that the original copy of the Bill of the Road was found in a collection many years ago. It was a mile-by-mile progress of a Quaker or a Dunker settler who would walk with team and wagon to Richmond, Indiana.
The Kanawha Trace begins near Greensboro or Winston Salem, North Carolina. Early Dunker churches were located along the Yadkin River starting in Wilkes County, going east to Winston Salem, then south through Salisbury, the same area from which Daniel Boone came. From this point there were two routes through the mountains to the West.
Two villages, Greensboro and Clemons, a small town on the southeast corner of Winston Salem, are about four miles apart. The Trace seems to have stayed east of the Yadkin River and initially followed US 52 as it angled northwest to the Blue Ridge Mountains to Ward's Gap. This Gap could possibly be the modern Fancy Gap on US 52 at the Blue Ridge Parkway. Total distance so far, 69 miles.
Traveling west, the Trace then went down into the Valley to the New River, which probably was close to VA 100.
Across West Virginia (then Virginia) the Trace followed the Shawnee War Path close to the New or Kanawha River. The New River Gorge and notably rough mountains are between the Blue Stone and the Falls of the New River, just above Gauley Bridge. The precise route is still to be determined in this area. Total distance so far, 220 miles.
The Gauley River enters at Gauley Bridge where the river is much larger and has a more even flow. It is now called the Kanawha. This was the spot where the early settlers built their flatboats and floated down the Kanawha to Point Pleasant, and on down the Ohio to Cincinnati.
The Kanawha Trace crossed the River into Ohio at Gallipolis, distance at this point, 302 miles. It then followed the old Lewis Army road to Chillicothe, now US 35. The Army road and the Trace connected in downtown Gallipolis, which would make the original route of the Trace OH 588 to Rodney and Old 35.
It next crossed Raccoon Creek at Adamsville, and then on to Rio Grande, stopping next at Jackson, total miles traveled, 336.
Richmond Dale is the next destination and then to old Kilgore's Ferry, which crossed the Scioto River at about the bridge on US 35/50, north of the mouth of Paint Creek on US 50. Along this span of the Trace several Dunker family's names were recorded. Total distance at this point, 352 miles.
Next stop, Chillicothe, which was Ohio's first capitol. At this point the Kanawha Trace met Zane's Trace and the two traveled together along Paint Creek.
About Bourneville, the Kanawha Trace turned northwest into Greenfield, possibly from there following the old country road to OH 28 near South Salem.
From Greenfield the Trace turned westward and crossed Rattlesnake Creek at East Monroe, on OH 28, where it continued on to Leesburg, US 62 and OH 28, and then on to Highland, total distance at this point, 396 miles.
From this location the Trace angled northwest up the old Antioch Road to Old 73 at Wilmington.
It next extended westward from Wilmington to Waynesville, following OH 73. Crossing Todd's Fork near Wilmington, it then continued westward crossing Caesar's Creek at Harveysburg, and on to Corwin, east of Waynesville, where it crossed the Little Miami, total distance so far, 430 miles.
The Kanawha Trace then traveled westward, following OH 73 to Sprinboro and Franklin. Following OH 123, it then crossed the Great Miami River, and on to Carlisle, crossing the Big Twin Creek in Germantown on OH 725.
From this point, it extended to Gratis and on to OH 122, where the next stop was Eaton. It next stops at its destination, Richmond, Indiana.
There were many Brethren churches in this good farming area of Richmond, with Dunker's settling at an early time.
The children of Elder Jacob removed from Franklin County, Va., in the 1790's, up the Great Miami to Dayton, and by 1803, moved west to the Ohio/Indiana line.
Some followed the Trace to Gratis, and then went west on OH 725 into Indiana Territory, near College Corner.
These early travelers were a courageous type of people. Cutting their own paths, they routed out an almost impossible course for a total distance of 481 miles.

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This page created 4 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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