The Upper Road or "Piedmont Road" splits off from the King's Highway at Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was roughly parallel to, but farther inland than the coastal King's Highway and more inland Fall Line Road until it rejoined that later road at Macon, Georgia. The Upper Road was especially popular among the Scots-Irish (or Ulster Irish) colonists who settled the backcountry mountains. In Virginia there is no modern equivalent road because reservoirs now cover the old trail. Interstate 85 is roughly the same as the Upper Road in the Carolinas. The length of the Upper Road from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Macon, Georgia was approximately 585 miles (940 km).
By the 1740s another road beside the Fall Line Road into the interior of Virginia and the Carolinas was needed. By 1748 the original trails were improved enough to be considered wagon roads. This set of trails came to be called the Upper Road or Piedmont Road and provided major access to interior farm lands. During the Revolutionary War these roads were important to both sides moving troops in the campaigns of the southern states.
Both the Upper Road, and the Fall Line Road ended at Macon, Georgia. In 1806 the federal government signed a treaty with the Creek Indians authorizing a "horse path" (mail route) through Indian land from Macon to New Orleans, Louisiana. The Creek Indians were postmasters along this extension to the west.
Important Towns on the Upper Road (northeast to southwest)
- Fredericksburg, VA
- Amelia Court House, VA
- Hillsboro, NC
- Salisbury, NC
- Charlotte, NC
- Spartanburg, SC
- Greenville, SC
- Tugaloo, GA
- Athens, GA
- Macon, GA
Upper Road Counties
- Virginia: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Louisa, Goochland, Powhatan, Amelia, Nottoway, Lunenburg, and Mecklenburg.
- North Carolina: Granville, Orange, Alamance, Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Gaston.
- South Carolina: York, Cherokee, Spartanburg, Greenville, Pickens, Oconee.
- Georgia: Stephens, Franklin, Madison, Clarke, Oconee, Morgan, Putnam, Jones, Bibb.
Overlapping routes. From about the Virginia-North Carolina border to Charlotte, the Upper Road and the Occaneechi Path followed the same route. From Salisbury to Charlotte, North Carolina the southern fork of the Great Valley Road was also the same as the Upper Road. And from Charlotte, North Carolina to Tugaloo, Georgia, the Upper Road followed the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path. For a map showing these overlapping trails see South Carolina Emigration and Immigration.
Settlers and Records
No lists of settlers who used the Upper Road 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.
Most settlers would have moved from the northeast to the southwest along the Upper Road. People from Pennsylvania (especially around the major port city of Philadelphia), southern New Jersey, eastern Maryland, and northern Virginia would be the most likely starting places for early Upper Road travelers. They would have settled in places like Amelia Court House in southern Virginia. Eventually travelers also reached Hillsborough, Salisbury, and Charlotte, in North Carolina, or Greenville in South Carolina. The Georgia portion of the Upper Road from the important Indian settlement of Tugaloo to Athens, and Macon was opened to most white settlers after a series of treaties and Georgia land lotteries from 1790 to 1826.
- The Upper Road (RootsWeb). Map, description, fact sheet.
- The Old Upper Road, The Historical Marker Database.
- Beverly Whitaker, "The Upper Road" (1995) in Genealogy Tutor at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gentutor/upper.pdf (accessed 24 January 2011).
- William Dollarhide, Map Guide to American Migration Routes 1735-1815 (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1997), 6, 7, 33, and 36. (FHL Book 973 E3d). WorldCat entry.
- Dollarhide, 33-36.