On May 1, 1769, Daniel Boone and his party climbed a mountain chain by following Elk Creek in western North Carolina and crossed the blue ridge at Cook's Gap into a high mountain meadow. Some where near Wolf Hills they joined the Great Warrior's Path, an ancient trail that ran across Virginia. Then they climbed Powell's Mountain and ascended Wallen's Ridge into the valley of Powell's river. At Powell's Valley they met a group led by Joseph Martin, who were clearing land for a settlement. Martin's Fort was the westernmost settlement of the English colonies at that time.
Leaving this last outpost of white civilization, boone and his companions moved down river until they could see the cliffs called the White Rocks, set like teeth in the mountain rim. Boone would later describe to felson the sense of dread and horror that chain of mountains and cliffs could evoke, appearing to be an insurmountable barrier.
Daniel B oone led settlers from Tennessee into Kentucky at the close of the 18th century. Though they didn't know it at the time, when they desended from the gap, they were walking into the eroded remnat of a 3.4 mile wide crater caused by a collision with a giant space rock some 300 million years ago,
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Boone and his party saw a gap, opening a way into the west. Sharp
as a gunsight cut into the mountains, this defile was the place where
hundreds of hunters and explorers would line up their sights on
Kentucky and the West, and hundreds of thousands of settlers would
follow over the next half century.
Actually; Dr. Thomas Walker organized the first known English expedition through Cumberland Gap on April 13, 1750. He named the gap through the mountains after the Duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II.
Cumberland Gap bacame the most famous pass in America, a gateway to the future. Another had passed throught the gap before, Gabriel Arthur had crossed there in 1674, escaping from captivity, but it was Boone who made it famous and drew so many to its threshold.
image above displays locations of meteor impacks in North America.
The yellow dot marks that of the Middlesboro Crater. Click the
image to spot other impact locations.
image at right is a closeup.
crater is located in the Appalachian Mountains,
between Cumberland Mountain and Pine
Mountain. It forms part of the string of geological features that made
Gap a critical westward passage during the late 1700s and early
The town of Middlesborough, built in the crater, was established in 1886 to exploit iron and coal deposits, although the town's founder, Alexander A. Arthur, apparently did not know of the crater's extraterrestrial origin. While coal mining is still the town's primary economic driver, local leaders hope to turn the crater into a tourist destination. In 2003, the Kentucky Society of Professional GeologistsDistinguished Geologic Site, and the construction of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel makes the town a convenient source of supplies for visitors to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. designated the area a Cumberland Gap National Historical Park .