The Avery Trace


First State-Directed Road in Tennessee Country


If the new country, now Tennessee, were to prove inviting to settlers, then roads had to be made in order to enable people to come into the new region. North Carolina, the mother State, gave encouragement in this matter in 1787 by ordering a road be "cut" from the south end of Clinch Mountain to Bean's "lick." Peter Avery, a hunter in the Washington District, was selected as guide to direct the blazing of the trail through "The Wilderness." This "trace" crossed Clinch River, and entered the Cumberland Mountains. It twisted up Crab Orchard Mountain, passed "Standing Stone" (now Monterey), and followed a rambling course by way of Fort Blount on to Nashville. Over this trace came a number of immigrants to the Cumberland Settlements in 1788. In that company were such notable persons as General William Davidson, Judge John McNairy, and Andrew Jackson.
At first, the "road" was merely a trail that had been marked by blazing trees to guide the pioneers on their way to the Cumberland Settlements. For a number of years, only pack horses could follow the trail. But about 1795, it began to be called a "wagon road." As rough and winding as the road was, it was the chief passage to the Cumberland Country until 1797. This road is generally known as the North Carolina Road, or Avery's Trace.
In 1794, the territorial Legislature ordered a road to be built from Southwest Point (now Kingston) to the "settlements" on the Cumberland River in the Mero District. These settlements later became what is now Nashville.