Monday, April 30, 2012

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - Middlesboro, Kentucky

Civil War cannon and earthworks at Cumberland Gap
One of America's truly great national parks, the Cumberland Gap is a beautiful mountain pass that was the original gateway to the West for American pioneers.

The gap takes its name because it cuts through Cumberland Mountain. It is 26 miles long and 1-4 miles wide. Prior to Daniel Boone's blazing of the famed Wilderness Road in 1775, it was the route of the Warrior's Path used by Shawnee and Cherokee Indians. These tribes hunted in Kentucky and considered the "dark and bloody ground" to be their exclusive hunting grounds. They often warred with each other over use of the pass and hunting rights.

Cumberland Gap NHP
Daniel Boone opened the Wilderness Road in 1775 and despite bloody violence in Kentucky during the American Revolution, it did not take long for thousands of American frontier families to follow in his footsteps. The National Park Service, in fact, estimates that as many as 47 million Americans can trace their ancestors to settlers who passed through the Cumberland Gap.

Rock Formations at Cumberland Gap
The natural pass through the mountains was a strategic point during the Civil War and both Union and Confederate armies each held it twice. The remains of Fort Lyon and Fort McCook are popular historic sites in the park today. Visitors can explore Civil War fortifications and look out at the Gap from the view of the soldiers that once held the forts.

Cumberland Gap today is a national historical park. Over 20,000 acres of beautiful mountain scenery is protected by the National Park Service, which also provides campsites, picnic areas, hiking trails, a visitor center, historic sites and even guided tours of the Gap Cave, one of a number of natural caves and caverns in the park.

To learn more, please visit

1 comment:

Drew@CWBA said...

I wish someone would write a book about Cumberland Gap and the Civil War.