Great Wagon Road Project

Maps, Maps & More Maps

The project is leaping with joy this month as we welcome new volunteers and create new communication lines within the group. A new addition of an online group page was created in January by Piedmont Trails in honor of The Great Wagon Road Project. With this addition, even more files are quickly downloaded and filed in their respectful places while we all continue to strive for the details of this historic trail. At every turn in the road, we find more and more treasures along the way. I’m happy to share with you a few of the discoveries we’ve made during the past few weeks.

Maps are essential to the progress of this project. We look at various types of maps from many different time periods. We look at maps made by the French, the English, the colonial surveyors and a few others that we are just learning about. Each individual had a different way of constructing a map with key points that were important to their task at hand, etc. Majority of these focus on waterways and their names. Especially during the mid to late 18th century. Waterways were important to trade, military strategies, possible new settlements and so on. In fact, the most important landmarks in the colonial period were waterways, creeks, streams and rivers. Outside of mountains these were vital to traveling around in the wilderness where roads simply didn’t exist.

The above map is significant due to the date and the location. Date is 1711 and location is southern portion of North America. Located on the Library of Congress website, (Link is attached to map above) this map is a treasure for the project. Why? It displays the appearances of various trails and roads known to be in existence during that time period. It positions these trails in accordance to waterways and various other landmarks such as mountains, early settlements, etc. This is part of the research involving the volunteers with the project. We study these maps in order to pinpoint a connection to the Great Wagon Road.

The above map is a prime example of locating the road in accordance with early settlements. The map dates to 1770 created by Collett, Bayly and Hooper and published by Hooper in London. (the link to Library of Congress is posted on the map). As you can see, the map clearly names early Moravian settlements in North Carolina, Bethabara and Bethania. These small communities were established in 1754 and 1759 respectively. Bethabara is actually centered on the road itself. We know this due to the references made in diaries, journals and Moravian records stored at the Southern Archives division. From these locations, we can travel back in time along the route.

The above map portrays the United States of America during the year of 1796. (the source for this map is the Library of Congress as well and the link can be located on the picture above) This map is important in following the road from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia after the American Revolutionary War. Also, keep in mind the famous southern tour made by the first president, George Washington. The tour occurred during the year of 1791 and involved the route in many areas.

All of these historical dates, early settlements and waterways contribute information by way of early maps and other formats. The project benefits greatly by these and the research brings us closer to our goal in proclaiming the route as a national historic trail. If you have information that you feel would benefit the project or you are interested in joining us, please Contact Piedmont Trails.

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