Early American Frontier
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.
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!