Trail of Tears: Missouri, Illinois, & Kentucky Itinerary

Routes through Kentucky and Illinois

Water Route

Cherokee on the land route traveled through a bitter winter that led to delays at icy river crossings and poor road conditions. In some cases, a road was built to provide a path for Indian Removal.

Land Route Benge

The Benge detachment left Fort Payne, Alabama, on September 28, 1838. They crossed the river the Mississippi River from Columbus (Iron Banks), Kentucky, to Belmont, Missouri. It took 1,200 people on this journey 111 days to reach Indian Territory.


Three detachments of nearly 3,000 Cherokee left Ross’ Landing in June 1838. The last detachment, which included Chief John Ross, departed in December 1838. The time it took for these detachments to complete their trip varied from 13 to 103 days. They followed the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, and Arkansas rivers.


Eight Northern Route detachments left the Fort Cass, Tennessee, area in August and September 1838. The journey included more than 8,000 people and took between 125 and 188 days.

Northern with Variations

Three detachments of over 3,600 Cherokee took variations of the Northern Route in September and October, leaving from Fort Cass and Vann’s Town, taking between 152 and 189 days.

Northern Route

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    Water & Benge Routes

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      Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail

      Last updated: May 21, 2023