Daniel Boone Cuts the Wilderness Road and Opens Kentucky for Settlement

This illustration depicts Boone and his men cutting the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap. Image Source: National Archives.

10 Facts About Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road

This video from the Smithsonian Channel provides a short look at Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road.

  1. The Allegheny Mountains, spanning from northern Pennsylvania to southern Virginia, posed a significant obstacle to settlers heading to Kentucky and the western frontier in the early 18th century.
  2. Dr. Thomas Walker, an explorer in 1750, discovered a narrow passage through the Alleghenies, known today as the Cumberland Gap, located at the intersection of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  3. In 1775, Richard Henderson, a wealthy businessman, hired Daniel Boone to create a trail through the Cumberland Gap, with the intention of establishing a colony named Transylvania in Kentucky.
  4. Boone and his men cut their way through the mountains, forging a path that became known as the Wilderness Road, which still exists today.
  5. After two weeks, Boone and his men reached the other side of the mountains and established a settlement called Boonsboro, where a reconstructed fort now stands.
  6. The Wilderness Road attracted hundreds of pioneers who traveled through the Cumberland Gap to reach the frontier outpost.
  7. While protecting the settlers from Indian attacks, Boone was captured by the Shawnee tribe, led by Chief Blackfish.
  8. Boone learned of a Shawnee plan to attack Boonsboro but was unable to warn the settlement until he made a daring escape. According to legend, he covered 160 miles of wilderness in just four days.
  9. When the Shawnee eventually attacked, the settlers were well-prepared and defended the fort for 10 days before the Shawnee retreated.
  10. Daniel Boone’s real-life adventures were sensationalized in newspapers and magazines, turning him into a legendary hero of the American frontier, with stories of daring escapes and leading pioneers into the western wilderness.