Cumberland Gap: Where Many Paths Cross:
For centuries Cumberland Gap has been a natural transportation corridor for people and animals traveling through the Appalachian Mountains. Bison and other game animals, following lines of least resistance, established the first paths through the old-growth forest. American Indians, and later Europeans followed these routes on hunting and trading expeditions. As explorers and long hunters documented this new frontier, the promise of abundant, fertile land attracted pioneer settlers. Between 1755 and 1810, 200,000 to 300,000 people crossed the mountains at Cumberland Gap in their westward journey. Today visitors can follow the footsteps of those who preceded them as they hike the Wilderness Road and experience nature's solitude within the park.
"Stand at Cumberland Gap and watch the procession of civilization, marching single file -- the buffalo following the trail to the salt springs, the Indians, the fur-traders and hunter, the cattle raiser, the farmer -- and the frontier has passed by."
-- Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893