|THE GREAT WAGON ROAD
|The Great Wagon Road was the main North-South artery, and was the main route of transportation from
North to South into the Blue Ridge area of the Piedmont. This Road is thought to have touched far
southeast Patrick County where Patrick and Henry Counties come together along the North Mayo River.
The Great Wagon Road came out of the Shenandoah Valley and crossed into Franklin County near
Raven Gap where it came out of the Roanoke Valley, then passed through Callaway, Ferrum, the
Philpott area, forded the Smith River in the Bassett area, then came through Rangeley, Preston and
Spencer and crossed the North Mayo River into North Carolina.
From there it went into Stokes County, North Carolina; forded the Dan River at Upper Sauratown at
Walnut Cove and then continued to Wachovia in what was then Forsyth County which later became
Bethabara. The Great Wagon Road is shown on The Fry-Jefferson Map of the colonies of Virginia and
the Carolinas which was produced in 1751 showing most of the streams and locations of the
settlements. Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's father, and Joshua Fry, a neighbor who had taught
mathematics at the College of William and Mary, made the first good map of the state since John
Smith's of more than 100 years earlier. This map included The Irvine River (now the Smith River),
Buffalo Creek, Peters Creek, and the Dan River all located in Patrick County. During the 19th Century,
The Great Wagon Road was used for Stagecoach travel from Salem, NC to Salem, VA and was known
as the Stage Road. One of the stage stops was at the Colonel Archelaus Hughes home which was an
ordinary at that time.
The settlement of Bethabara was founded on November 17, 1753 when twelve settlers came from
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania down the Great Wagon Road up the Shenandoah Valley until they got to Big
Lick (Roanoke) and crossed over the Blue Ridge then they meandered. Several days into the
meandering one of them climbed a hill (which is recorded in a travel guide) and said he saw the Pilot.
Several days later they came into NC. The Moravian brethren arrived after walking from Pennsyvania
along the Great Wagon Road and had with them their Conestoga Wagon. The Conestoga Wagon was
a sturdy, colorful wagon used by American pioneers. It was named for the Pennsylvania town where it
was first built in the middle 1700's. Conestoga's carried most of the freight and people until about
1850. The Conestoga Wagon was pulled by six horses or oxen and later used to haul tobacco and
other heavy loads. It could carry five tons of cargo.
From: Alpha Hiatt
Patrick County, VA
|THE CONESTOGA WAGON