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The Great Wagon Road

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The Great Wagon Road

Imagine you are living in the 1700's. You have invested in land in America and you are searching for a more fulfilling life. Most land in Pennsylvania is already owned however, you hear that there are lands in North Carolina that would be great for farming. Getting there by modern day vehicles were not an option since they were not invented yet, so you have to resort to traveling down a few roads with Conestoga wagons carrying all of your possessions. In the mid 1700's many settlers moved South from Pennsylvania to Virginia and the Carolinas, the most popular route often taken by these people was known as the Great Wagon Road. This road would allow a new beginning for many people however, this trip was far from simple and quick.

The Great Wagon Road was the most heavily traveled route along the eastern coast. The route began at the port of Philadelphia, where a majority of immigrants entered the colonies, this route passed through about every main city along the east coast. The great wagon road passed through Lancaster, Winchester, York, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Rocky Mount, Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry and many other popular cities at the time and now. These cities were not instantly built but began as camp sites along the great wagon road and then transformed into tavern locations, then into county seats, then into info centers for agriculture and industry. In the beginning, the Great wagon road was very narrow, muddy and bumpy. However, the road began to improve due to the massive amount of people using the road to access the Carolinas. This trip even then was still no walk in the park, due to the wagons could not handle the weight load and amount of mileage it was acquiring on the wheels. The next problem that was occurring, was that these people would have to find fresh water sources and food without going off course of the path. (NCOAH)

The Great Wagon Road brought a massive amount of settlers to Piedmont North Carolina between 1735 and 1775. Around 1775, it was estimated that 209,000 settlers had now settled in the colony, this number was six times more than in 1735. A variety of different people had now settled in North Carolina such as Germans, Scots-Irish, and English immigrants, most who had traveled south from Pennsylvania and Virginia. These people began to create civilized towns, such as Salem, Salisbury, Charlotte, Bethania and Bethabara. The diverse background of immigrants in North Carolina molded the state into a backcountry of religious and cultural clashes. Many newcomers from the Pennsylvania region were Quakers. German families were majority Lutheran, with the exceptions of the Moravians. The Irish immigrants were predominantly Presbyterians. Also, the Great awakening swept the English colonies during the 18th century, which resulted in the creation of a few Baptist churches in North Carolina. (NCOAH)

A few of the important settlers of the development of key settlements in North Carolina include Morgan Bryant and the Single Brothers. In the 1740's, one of the first groups to pioneer the Great Wagon Road were "the Bryant Settlement". The leader was a Quaker named Morgan Bryant. The Bryant Settlement traveled along a path from Pennsylvania into Virginia. Later in 1948, he led a group farther south into North Carolina, where they managed to create a settlement on the Yadkin River near a crossing called the Shallow Ford. The path that the "Bryant Settlement" had pioneered would know be referred to as the Great Philadelphian Wagon Road. The Single Brothers wrote about the hardships they experienced on their conquest to find new land in North



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