“Colonial trading path, dating from the 17th century, from Petersburg, Va., to the Waxhaw Indians in Carolina, passed nearby.”
– North Carolina Office of Archives and History
As part of Indian Trail’s 105th anniversary, we’re running a series of short articles about the town’s history.
A thousand years before there was a North Carolina, American Indians along the East Coast established an expansive and well-traveled system of paths and trails used for hunting, trade, travel and occasional warfare. Their towns and villages grew up along the path. American Indians and later colonists favored the path because of water sources along the route and fords across major streams and rivers. This path was known by various names including the Occaneechi Path. The Eastern Woodland tribe once lived in this area in large numbers and throughout the Piedmont section of North and South Carolina. The name of our town, Indian Trail, is based on trading paths that crossed near here.
By the early to mid 1700s, the Trading Path provided European-American explorers and colonists a well-traveled route to the Piedmont for settlement and trade.
They traveled by foot, horseback and Conestoga wagon from the Chesapeake Bay region of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia and from South Carolina and Georgia. Later, the Trading Path became known as the Great Wagon Road because of this increased traffic. Following portions of the original path, the Great Wagon Road crossed Virginia into North Carolina above Winston-Salem and into the Salisbury area. The route was not just one path, but many. One branch of the path led to Charlotte’s Trade and Tryon streets, another through the Waxhaws and one near this place, Indian Trail. The trading route went on through Charleston, S.C., and eventually to Augusta, Ga.
The history of the peoples of the Piedmont past, present, and future owe much to this path. The 19th-century railroad and today’s Interstate 85 also roughly follow this trail. The Trading Path also underlies the Piedmont Urban Crescent, which has experienced steady growth since the late 19th century. Cities of the Crescent are the centers of government, finance, education and research, and business in the state.
Article submitted by Roger J. Fish of Indian Trail