Several attempts to penetrate the western country were made about the time of the out break of hostilities between the colonies and those in authority. The country-dwellers in the uplands of Virginia and North Carolina were restless, fearless and self-reliant. They needed only a rifle, powder and ball for equipment. In this and similar respects, they were the antip odes of their urban-dwglling brethren of the north Atlantic plain. A glance at a map will show that in western North Carolina, the water shed has leaped over to the most easterly of the mountain ridges, leaving a large space of the °back lands" within the limits of this State and Virginia. The Yadkin approaches the water shed upon the eastern side very closely, while the western slope is drained by the Watauga, the French Broad and other headwaters of the noble Tennessee River. Here was probably the earliest carrying place of any magnitude be tween the Atlantic plain and the Mississippi Basin. Over it passed Daniel Boone, Robert son and other adventurous spirits to form the Watauga Association in the back country in 1772. The map will also show that other streams tributary to the head of the Tennessee take their rise in long parallel valleys in south western Virginia. Among them are the Clinch, the French Broad and the Holston. They are almost touched by the headwaters of the James and the south branch of the Potomac. Over the many short portages between the two sys tems came such hardy men as John Sevier and Richard Henderson to meet the North Carolin ians in northeastern Tennessee.
These scattered Watauga settlements, largely in what is now Carter County, Tenn., not only set up the rudiments of government, but also furnished a supply for two great streams of emigrants to the West. One branch passed directly down the Tennessee River, founded Knoxville and planted innumerable villages and homes throughout eastern Tennessee. John Sevier attempted to collect them into his state of °Frankland" or °Franklin," as it was later called. The other branch of people turned directly west across the Clinch and Powell Mountain, passed through the Cumberland Gap and found its way into the limestone valley of the Elkhorn, the "blue grass" region of Ken tucky. Watauga hunters encamped there heard the news of 19 April 1775 and named their camp "Lexington," a name the city bears at this time. When independence was announced, there were several thousand people maintain ing their stand against the hostile savages and the British in the present States of Tennessee and Kentucky. Uncertainty of ownership left them almost entirely unprotected. As a de fensive measure, George Rogers Clark headed a number of them, together with some Virginia recruits, and marched to destroy Kaskaskia and other former French posts now held by the British. Virginia in this way doubly confirmed her claim to the land north of the Ohio. It is worthy of note that it was a Virginia-Kentucky enterprise and formed no part of the claims put forward in the treaty of peace for American ownership of the *back lands.*
The Watauga route, although the first to he used in popular migration, was outranked in age by the Potomac-Monongahela portage path. It was the one which young Washington chose across the mountains when warning the French from the qiack lands)); along it Braddock led his ill-fated expedition, and over it Washington brought back the survivors of that disastrous excursion into the Western country. It required the shortest carrying over the Alleghany water shed and evidently awaited only the pacification of the Indians north of the Ohio to become the great thoroughfare to the West. The conduct of the Revolutionary War had made the Lake Champlain route to Canada familiar. At Al bany the Mohawk invited travelers to the west to follow its charming valley to Lake Oneida, and thence by the Oswego River to Lake On tario. Washington, Lafayette, Madison and Hamilton made short trips in this direction after the war. But it was a long and perilous way to the Western lands, involving passing through the undependable Iroquois, a canoe trip on two great lakes and a long portage about Niagara Falls. This route, destined eventually to become the most popular, was very tardily developed. A fourth route would be opened in time about the southern end of the moun tains, but not until the Creeks and the Chero kees could be removed from the way or could be pacified.
These were the four great ways from the Atlantic to the interior. Pioneers on foot and in *dug-outs" pushed their way across upland, through forests and along the streams. The northern portage is now used by the New York Central and West Shore railways and by the Erie Canal; the Pittsburgh route by the Penn sylvania and Baltimore and Ohio railways; the *Wilderness Route" by the Chesapeake and Ohio, the Norfolk and Western and the South ern Railway lines, and the extreme southern route by the many east and west systems cen tring in Birmingham, Ala. In the many changes from •dug-out* to palace car, the peo ple have never abandoned the line of least re sistance for travel.
Among the many inducements held out in recruiting for the Revolutionary service was the promise of "a good farm." Led by visions of this bounty land, officers and men, at the close of the war, banded themselves together for the purpose of migrating to the "back lands,* which had been won by their valor. This they would do not only for bettering their condition, but also for protecting the frontier against the In dians, the Spanish in the Floridas and the British in Canada. Efforts to satisfy these am bitions brought about the cession of the west ern lands by the States to the national govern ment, the creation of the Northwest Territory (q.v.), the sale of 1,000,000 acres to the Ohio Land Associators and the first settlement north of the Ohio made at Marietta, 1788. However, occupation of the land north of the river pro gressed but slowly until the victory of Wayne over the Indians and the resulting Treaty of Greenville in 1795.