New River and Southern Trail
The New River and Southern Trail connected Yadkin River settlements of North Carolina to the Great Valley Road in Virginia and to the New River Gorge into West Virginia. In Mercer County, West Virginia the name of the trail changed to the Kanawha Trail (Kanawha Branch of the Great Indian Warpath) on its way to Chillicothe, Ohio. The length of the New River and Southern Trail was about 165 miles (265 km).
The New River and Southern Trail started as an Indian path. From Roanoke, Virginia went northwest through the New River Gorge, a key gateway into West Virginia and eventually the Ohio country and the whole Northwest Territory. The New River Gorge part of the trail was considered the "Kanawha Branch of the Great Indian Warpath." The main part of the Great Indian Warpath was later called the Great Valley Road. The part of the trail on the south side of Roanoke, Virginia connected the Great Valley Road to the western side of the Yadkin River settlements in North Carolina.
In 1746 the first European colonists began settling the Yadkin River valley. They seem to have followed the [Great Valley Road] south from Hopewell, New Jersey to Roanoke, and south from there to the Yadkin Valley. We know at least one group from Hopewell, New Jersey found their way to that valley. The Moravians began arriving in 1753 from Pennsylvania.
List of Counties on the New River and Southern Trail (south to north)
- North Carolina: Wilkes, Alleghany
- Virginia: Grayson, Carroll, Wythe, Pulaski, Giles
- West Virginia: Mercer
Connecting Routes. The New River and Southern Trail was a northern extension of the Catawba and Northern Trail. It crossed the Great Valley Road near Radford, Virginia. Radford was also where the southern fork of the Great Valley Road headed off toward Salisbury, North Carolina (a little east of the New River and Southern Trail). Emerging from the New River Gorge in Mercer County, West Virginia the New River and Southern Trail became the Kanawha Trail which eventual reached Chillicothe, Ohio.
Modern Parallel Roads.
Settlers and Records
No lists of settlers who used the New River and Southern Trail are known to exist. However, local and county histories along the road may reveal that many of the first pioneer settlers arrived from places to the northeast along the route of the Great Valley Road.
- Early Settlements in the Yadkin Valley describes the history of the settlers and their origins.
- Many of the US Migration Trails and Roads
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 852. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
- "Early Settlements in the Yadkin Valley" in Davidson County, North Carolina at http://www.co.davidson.nc.us/leisure/EarlySettlementsintheYadkinValley.aspx (accessed 4 February 2011).