King's Highway

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  King's Highway

The King's Highway was also called in various parts the "Boston Post Road," "Pequot Path," "Delaware Indian Path (New Jersey)," "Great Coastal Road," or "Potomoc Trail." It evolved from a network of Indian paths into postal trails, and then into an important Colonial American wagon and stagecoach route for settlers along the Atlantic coast. In 1664 British King Charles II requested a road from Boston to New York City, newly conquered from the Dutch. However, the sea route was relatively easier and safer. So as late as 1704 even finding the lightly traveled postal road was difficult. By 1750, weather permitting, wagons and regularly scheduled stagecoaches traversed a continuous road from Boston, Massachusetts, to Charleston, South Carolina, a trip of about 1,300 miles (2,100 km).[1] 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

Before 1735, people on horseback found traveling the muddy pathways of the King's Highway a difficult journey. Occasional stagecoaches between Boston and New York started about 1735. Regular schedules for stagecoaches were not available until the 1740s. Several nearly parallel routes eventually developed favoring different towns. The "highway" included several possible ferry routes off Manhattan Island. Prior to 1745 travelers from Philadelphia more often used boats to New Castle, Delaware. By 1775 the highway stretched from Maine to Georgia and became one of the unifying factors of the American Revolution. The name "King's Highway" fell into disfavor because of the war, but troops on both sides often used it. Parts of the highway in the Williamsburg-Yorktown area of Virginia were virtually abandoned after the Revolution.[1]
Map of the King's Highway about 1750.


(Northeast to Southwest)[1]

  • Portland, Maine (in later years)
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire (in later years)
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • New York City, New York
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Trenton, New Jersey
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • New Castle, Delaware
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Annapolis, Maryland
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia
  • Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Suffolk, Virginia
  • New Bern, North Carolina
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Georgetown, South Carolina
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Savannah, Georgia (in later years)

Settlers and Records

No lists of settlers who used the King's Highway are known to exist.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: King's Highway (Charleston to Boston)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 William Dollarhide, Map Guide to American Migration Routes 1735-1815 (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1997), 2-4, and 7. (FHL Collection Book 973 E3d). WorldCat entry.