This is one of my favorite photos. This is a south-facing view of an old road bisected by a modern highway. This particular road began life as a Native American trade route from the Nashville region to Illinois. During the 18th century it was a main route for hunters and trade between the Cumberland settlements and Illinois. By the 19th century it became a major stagecoach route called the Great Western Road. This particular segment is in western KY.
Below is a French map from 1682 by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin that shows the first known depiction of the route. The scale is pretty wonky but the path shown leads from the headwaters of the Savannah River to the Tennessee River. The french text reads: "Path by which the Kaskinampo and other savages go to trade with the Spanish."
By 1684, Franquelin updated his map to better reflect a more realistic scale and better spatial alignment. This shows the same path but it is now shown continuing to what is believed to be either the Cumberland River or Kentucky River.
|Franquelin, Jean Baptiste Louis. Carte de la Louisiane ou des voyages du Sr. De La Salle., 1684. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650, g3300 ct000656 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3300.ct000656|
As I mentioned earlier, this road became a well traveled stagecoach route by the early 19th century. In 1837-1839, this same route was used as the Northern Removal route for the Cherokee during the Trail of Tears. Below is the route as preserved in Port Royal State Historic Park in Adams, TN. This section is a certified section on the National Trail of Tears Historic Trail.