Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles
Early Moccasin Gap
By Lisa Watson McCarty
The topography of an area usually determines the growth, development and history of an area. This idea is never moreprevalent than in the case of Moccasin Gap.
Moccasin Gap provides an opening in the Clinch Mountain range - the only opening in the range that stretches for manymiles. The gap joins together the two most important valleys of the Clinch and Holston Rivers and was the only way to reach the new wilderness of Kentucky in the nation's early days.
The gap was recognized early on for its importance by pioneers and Indians alike. Indians used the narrow pass to attackunsuspecting settlers. The densely forested area offered an excellent cover for strategic ambushes. Many pioneers dreaded traveling through Moccasin Gap for fear of Indian attack.
Even military companies expected attacks while traveling through Moccasin Gap. Many settlers would not travel through the narrow pass without military escort. Col. Arthur Campbell even suggested that "a strong party be stationed within a mile or two of Moccasin Gap at which place and Blackmore's seems to be the most convenient to oppose the enemy especially a large party."
The notorious Benge used the densely forested pass to move easily from Virginia to North Carolina and back. Each time the widely-feared Indian used the gap for the nefarious purpose of killing and terrorizing the white settlers.
Moccasin Gap was the site of many first time occurrences. The first court of Scott County was held here. Boone and his companions traveled through to carve out the new Wilderness Road. The first railroad in Scott County entered the county through the narrow pass in 1886-87.
The importance of Moccasin Gap has not changed as the 21st century approaches. Two-lane and four-lane highways converge in the same pass where horses and wagons passed more than three centuries ago. Civilization hasn't changed what is still the only opening in the mountains.