First Three Centuries of Appalachian Travel
About this Collection
Introduction: First Three Centuries of Appalachian Travel
Before the American Revolution, most Americans and Europeans knew little about Appalachia--the vast region between Lexington, Kentucky and Winchester, Virginia, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Birmingham, Alabama--and even regarded it as a myth. In 1728, William Byrd was moved to chide his compatriots for having lived in America for more than a century and not having penetrated the Appalachians, while the French had already explored their territories to the Pacific.
Beginning in the early 19th century more travelers with considerable educational background, notably missionaries, began to visit Appalachia. However, there were still few extensive accounts of the people and their culture, as the tide of emigration had moved westward to the fertile Bluegrass Country and Nashville flatlands.
The First Three Centuries of Appalachian Travel is based on the diaries and narration of explorers, cartographers, military men and travelers. Their accounts provide a view of the region, which spans three centuries and provides information on the social, political, economic, scientific, religious and agricultural characteristics of the area.