Fall Line Road

From FamilySearch Wiki
Revision as of 23:14, 22 January 2011 by DiltsGD (talk | contribs) (length)

Jump to: navigation, search

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 those mill towns.[1]

The Fall Line Road (or Southern Road) was the road built to connect most of those 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.
Colonial Roads in the South.png

Historical Background

By 1735 the Fall Line Road forked off of the King's Highway at Fredericksburg, Virginia and continued south along the fall line, a geographic dropoff seperating the Tidewater from the Piedmont regions. This road was historically significant because it was the first into the interior away from the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. [2]

After several Indian removals from 1790 to 1826 the Fall Line Road was slowly further extended from Augusta to the west Georgia border for white settlers. In 1831 the final treaty was signed that allowed settlers to follow the road as far as Montgomery, Alabama.

The length of the Fall Line Road is about 170 miles (274 km) from Philadelphia to Fredericksburg, and about 1030 miles (1658 km) from Fredericksburg to Montgomery.[3]


Some consider the start of the Fall Line Road to be Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It follows the same route from there to Fredericksburg, Virginia as the King's Highway. The Fall Line Road and Upper Road both spit off from the King's Highway at Fredericksburg.

By Town (Northeast to Southwest)[4]

  • Philadelphia, PA: Schuylkill R.
  • Wilmington, DE: Brandywine Creek
  • Baltimore, MD: Patapsco R.
  • Georgetown, DC: Potomac R.
  • 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.
  • Columbus, GA: Chattahoochee R.
  • Tallassee, AL: Tallapoosa R.
  • Montgomery, AL

By County or Independent City[3]

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. 3.0 3.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 849. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Fall line" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_line (accessed 20 January 2011).