Soon after the earliest settlers arrived in America, they began to explore their surroundings.  As more colonists arrived, they began to expand the original settlements and to search for more settlement sites.  Early explorations were on Indian paths and on the waterways.  Soon there was a need to improve these trails, so that stagecoaches and wagons could carry the ever-growing number of travelers.

As America grew, the desire for further exploration increased and hearing the tales of the newly discovered lands, settlers followed, pursuing their dreams of land of their own.

"On 8th January 1807, I left Philadelphia on foot accompanying a wagon which carried my baggage. I preferred this mode of travelling for several reasons. Not being pressed for time I wished to see as much of the country as possible; the roads were in fine order, and I had no incentive to make me desirous of reaching any point of my intended journey before my baggage.  With respect to experience, there was little difference in my traveling in this manner, or on horseback, or in the stage, had I been un-incumbered with baggage; for the delay on the road, awaiting the slow pace of a loaded wagon, which is not quite three miles an hour and not exceeding twenty six miles on a winter's day, will occasion as great expence to a traveller in a distance exceeding two such days journey, as the same distance performed otherwise in less than half the time, including the charge of horse or stage hire” (Source: Early western travels, 1748-1846: a series of annotated reprints , Volume 4, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, p. 25)

This website seeks to provide the best resources for studying early American migration routes on the web and in print.

Web Sources:

Franklin County Kentucky Migration Site

North Carolina ALHN Migration site

Use Migration Routes in Your Genealogy Research

Early American Roads and Trails

Federal Roads through Cherokee Land

The Boone Train (Virginia)

Historic Roads and Trails

American Local History Network Homepage


Photo credit: Cumberland Gap, John Brian McCarthy Some rights reserved

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