While wandering around East Tennessee on Google Maps, I followed the Old Kentucky Road out of Russellville until it disappeared into the Davy Crockett Parkway just before the bridge over Cherokee Lake. The Old Kentucky Road, I think, used to cross the Holston River at that point and continue, as does the DCP (which returns to its Dixie Highway name at the bridge), toward Bean Station. So I took my Google self over that way, actually looking for Old 25E up the Clinch Mountains to Cumberland Gap, when what should my wandering eyes spy than the Old Kentucky Road heading up the mountain.
Here’s a look at one of the oldest roads in Tennessee and Kentucky — the one that goes through Cumberland Gap. Yes, that Cumberland Gap. The one Daniel Boone used. The Wilderness Road. Of course this is from 35 miles away, but the deep cut in the mountains is pretty clear.
I remember going up to Cumberland Gap in the 1960s. There was no 4-lane highway, no tunnel, and US25E went straight through the gap, right along the Wilderness Road. That’s all changed now. There is a tunnel, and the concrete of the highway has been replaced by crushed limestone, which, while not exactly period — Wilderness Road was often described by early travelers as a muddy mess — makes for a nice walk along an historic road.