Fall Line Road

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  Fall Line Road

At the southeastern edge of the Piedmont is the (water)fall line, where rivers drop to the coastal plain. Towns grew at the fall line because cargo on boats had to be portaged around the waterfalls which also served as an important early source of water power. Mills built to harness this resource encouraged the growth of towns. The larger rivers were navigable up to the fall line, providing a trade route for these mill towns.[1]

The Fall Line Road (or Southern Road) was the road built to connect most of these growing mill towns.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.

Historical Background



Some consider the start of the Fall Line Road to be Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It follows the same route from there to Fredericksburg, Viriginia as the Great Valley Road.

By Town (Northeast to Southwest)[3]

  • Fredericksburg, VA: Rappahannock R.
  • Richmond, VA: James R.
  • Petersburg, VA: Appomattox R.
  • Roanoke Rapids, NC: Roanoke R.
  • Smithfield, NC: Neuse R.
  • Fayetteville, NC: Cape Fear R.
  • Cheraw, SC: Pee Dee R.
  • Camden, SC: Wateree R.
  • Columbia, SC: Congaree R.
  • Augusta, GA: Savannah R.
  • Milledgeville, GA: Oconee R.
  • Macon, GA: Ocmulgee R.

By County[4]

  • Virginia: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Caroline, Hanover, Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Brunswick
  • North Carolina: Warren, Franklin, Wake,Johnson, Harnett, Cumberland, Hoke, Scotland
  • South Carolina: Marlboro, Chesterfield, Kershaw, Richland, Lexington, Aiken
  • Georgia: Richmond, McDuffie, Warren, Hancock, Baldwin, Jones, Bibb, Crawford, Taylor, Talbot, Muscogee
  • Alabama: Russell, Lee, Macon, Montgomery

Settlers and Records

No lists of settlers who used the Fall Line Road are known to exist.


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "South Carolina" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Carolina (accessed 20 January 2011).
  2. William Dollarhide, Map Guide to American Migration Routes 1735-1815 (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1997), ???. (FHL Book 973 E3d). WorldCat entry.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Fall line" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_line (accessed 20 January 2011).
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 849. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.