On The Trail Of Daniel Boone

On The Trail Of Daniel Boone

Over two centuries after Daniel Boone left North Carolina for the "dark and bloody ground" of Kentucky, traces of this famous pioneer still linger in the High Country.

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The most visible reminder is Boone, the largest town in the northwest, which bears Daniel's name. Though the community has changed greatly since the early days, the observant can find Boone's trail.

On the Appalachian State University campus, there was a monument near the Duck Pond Field on Rivers Street marking the site of one of Boone's hunting cabins. The marker contained a number of stones taken from the chimney of the long-fallen building.

One branch of Boone's legendary Wilderness Road forms the basis of part of U.S. 421 in Watauga County. The road came up from the Piedmont through the present Triplett community, swung up what is not N.C. 1510 (the Jake Mountain Road, a very rough dirt road), and eventually followed the path of 421 as it goes through what is now downtown Boone. On the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 285 (just north of Bamboo Gap), a monument marks where one of Boone's trails passed.

Every summer since 1952, the story of Daniel Boone and of the brave settlers who crossed the Appalachians is retold right here. The outdoor drama Horn In The West is performed every night except Monday at an amphitheater in Boone. Glenn Causey has virtually become Daniel Boone, having appeared in the role every year since 1955. the adjoining Hickory Ridge Homestead offers a look back into the world of Daniel Boone and his contemporaries. Cabins, some dating back to pre-Revolutionary times, form the area's only living history museum. Interpreters, dressed in clothes of pioneer times, demonstrate and discuss old skills and life.

Also nearby is the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. Besides an excellent collection of native plants and shrubs, it has two items of particular interest to Boone-seekers. The iron front gate was wrought by the late Daniel Boone VI, a famed blacksmith who was a direct descendent of the pioneer. Inside the gardens stands a small cabin which was owned by Jesse Boone, Daniel's grandfather. In it Squire Boone, Daniel's father, grew up.

As most people know, the reality of Daniel Boone has long since been swallowed up by the legend. Both the real man and the image that has grown since his death are explored in exhibits at the Appalachian Cultural Museum. Located in University Hall, just off Blowing Rock Road in Boone, the museum was created by Appalachian State to preserve the history and culture of the mountains.

Perhaps the greatest legacy Boone has left us is people. While Boone's own offspring mostly pressed on west, many local families here in the High Country are descended from his sister. Though few share "Uncle Daniel's" restless drive, some keep alive his independent spirit and values that were once common on the American frontier.

There is one other way to remember this remarkable man. When you stand looking over the vistas from the Blue Ridge Parkway or Grandfather Mountain or anywhere the mountains slope away and the view unfolds, think a moment. In some places, what you see isn't all that different from what Boone and his fellow hunters saw before the Revolution. And two hundred years are hardly a moment for mountains that have stood here for countless millennia.

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