• fog flows through Cumberland Gap

    Cumberland Gap

    National Historical Park KY,TN,VA

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  • No Cave Tours or Hensley Tours on September 27

    There will be no Gap Cave or Hensley Settlement tours offered on September 27, 2014 due to special Heritage Walk program. For more information please call the park visitor center at (606) 248-2817, extension 1075.

  • Sugar Run Trail Closed to Horses

    The Sugar Run Trail is temporarily closed to horse use due to the number of fallen trees as a result of recent storms. The trail is still open for hikers, but hikers should use caution.

  • Back the Bears!

    Support the park's "Back the Bears" campaign and help keep our bears wild and safe! More »

  • Cave Tour Alert!

    White Nose Syndrome is a disease that is killing bats in great numbers and has been found in park caves. While visiting Gap Cave please do not wear or bring anything that has been in other caves. Skylight Cave is currently closed.

Early American Frontier

Painting by David Wright showing Daniel Boone and other pioneers travelling through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky

Daniel Boone and early settlers coming through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky

Painting by David Wright

For early settlers and pioneers the Cumberland Gap was a gateway that led through the southern Appalachian Mountains into the great wilderness of Kentucky. They mostly traveled on foot, coming from as far away as Pennsylvania. Although many of these early travelers had different dreams and expectations heading west into Kentucky, they were all in search of land and a new start. They often traveled in groups for safety and had an insatiable drive to penetrate the great wilderness. Everyday was a struggle to survive as they lived off of the bounty of the land.

 
map of the historic wilderness road

Map showing the historic Wilderness Road

In the late 1700's most of the population in the United States was found east of the Appalachian Mountains. Early pioneers and settlers travelled along the historic Wilderness Road west into the wilderness of Kentucky through Cumberland Gap. By the early 1820's it is estimated that several hundred thousand people travelled this historic route westward. Today, an estimated 47 million people in the United States are descendants of these early travelers!

Did You Know?

Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer

Civil War buffs will appreciate the fact that the famous Confederate Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer personally supervised the construction of the earthen fortifications at Cumberland Gap.