The first official meeting of the Friends of Boone Trace took place Tuesday at Berea College, and several guest speakers were from Bell County.
The trace, originally traveled by Daniel Boone and settlers in 1775, stretches locally through Lee, Claiborne and Bell counties, but continues through Kentucky until Fort Boonesborough in Madison County. Many residents can trace their roots back to Boone and those that traveled through the area.
In March 2015, Givan Fox and Curtis Penix hiked the path, carried supplies and traveled in the name of Boone and Penix’s fifth great grandfather who settled just years after Boone’s trek. Fox and Penix underwent this adventure with help from Dr. John Fox, Givan’s father and president of the Friends of Boone Trace.
“We’re all here because we’re connected. Look around at the people in this room and the people that are making this work around the state. Boone means something to all of us — as Kentuckians and as Americans,” said Fox.
The Bell County area holds one of the most recognizable parts of Boone’s journey — the Cumberland Gap —and serves as a hot-spot of historical preservation and tourist attraction along the trace. Guest speakers Pam Eddy from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Jon Grace from the Three Corners Regional Trail Committee and historian and Pineville resident Steve Cawood represented the significance of Bell County during the Friends of Boone Trace Meeting.
“To me, Boone’s Trace was where we started to become a country and where we started to become something different and not Englishmen anymore, but Americans. Stories that are tied to this trail come to us at the park everyday through thousands of visitors that have ties to this trail,” said Eddy.
The Boone Trace crosses through Wilderness Road State Park, CGNHP, Middlesboro, the county and a notable passage of the Cumberland River in Pineville — the Cumberland Ford. The trail overlaps and connects with many heavily-traveled hiking trails which are a large part of the connectivity that the Three Corners Regional Trail Committee is working towards.
The ultimate goal of the Friends of Boone Trace is to make the trail a nicer, more identifiable and easy-to-follow path which will ultimately bring outdoor tourism to the area and recognition to the historical significance of the passage. Major sections of the original trail have already been cleared, cleaned and signage has been put up in counties such as Knox and Laurel.
For more information about the Boone Trace, maps or touring options, visit www.boonetrace1775.com.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.