North Carolina People, Places, and Things-April 21
I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.
In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.
Back in March I took a trip to Charlotte and toured a few breweries. I also came across a business located near one of the breweries called the Great Wagon Road Distillery.
I wondered about the name of the road and what was its significance to Charlotte. Turns out that for many Scotch-Irish settlers to North Carolina’s Piedmont region that road was their interstate highway of the time.
After months of crossing the ocean from lands abroad, immigrant settlers especially Scotch and Irish arrived in Philadelphia to establish farms in Pennsylvania and Maryland. As these lands became more populated and high priced, colonial settlers loaded their Conestoga covered wagons with all their possessions and moved down South where more farmland was available and affordable. The path they took was called the Great Wagon Road.
By horseback, travelers could cover twenty miles a day, but by wagon a group was lucky to break a paltry five miles. Pioneers traveled the road for months facing obstacles like flooded rivers, steep mountain passes, broken wagons, and sickness. Winter was a popular season for travel, as the arrival to their new promised land would be just in time for the new planting season.
The Great Wagon Road played a major role in the economic development of NC and paved the way for many modern towns and cities now known as Winston-Salem, Salisbury, & Charlotte.
There is a website that still tries to preserve the history of this road and others
The Great Wagon Road began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spanned more than 700 miles through Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before ending in Augusta, Georgia.
The next time I go back to Charlotte I will know a little more about the significance of the Great Wagon Road means.