Sunday, June 17, 2007

Roads Go Ever Ever On

It's just a country road, one of hundreds, thousands really, throughout the state. It winds through southwestern Ohio almost unnoticed, past farms and houses, and fields of hay, corn, soybeans, cattle, sheep, and horses. It meanders through tiny towns, some of which exist only as names on a sign or in some distant memory. It slices through Clermont County, from Rural in the south to Edenton in the north. It's just a country road that I travel daily as I commute to work or play or shopping. It's just another country road.

Or is it? In truth, State Route 133 in Ohio is the modern day incarnation of what was once a major thoroughfare for travel, commerce, war, and escape from tyranny. Really? Yes, really.


Centuries ago, the Bullskin Trace was a major migration route for Shawnee Indians, which they used to travel from the Ohio River to what is now Detroit. It went through their primary settlement Old Chillicothe, now Oldtown, in Xenia, Ohio. It was renamed the Xenia State Road when it became the first road recognized by the new State of Ohio in 1807. It was used by the army of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne in 1793 and to supply Admiral Perry's fleet on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. It was one of the routes followed by escaped slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad.

And, on this date, June 17, 1778, Daniel Boone ran through Clermont County, from north to south in one day along the Bullskin trail, fleeing the Shawnee. This house was standing by the road that day, as it is today, 229 years later.

This stone monument stands at the end of the Bullskin Trace in Clermont County, as it leaves SR 133 and heads towards modern day SR 68 and so goes north through Yellow Springs and Xenia, and on to Toledo and finally Detroit, changing its name and number, but retaining its rich history.

As I drive this road
, I like to think about those ancient travelers who followed the same path I do now, and wonder what their ghosts think of the changes their ancestors have made. What can they tell me? What might your road tell you, if only you could listen?

2 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

That road DOES go on...in time and in space.
I was on it once and I thought I would end up on the moon.

Reminds me of a road near where I grew up. Used to be a pioneer wagon trail.

Pam Allen said...

Hi Kat Doc - I actually live in the house on Hwy 133 (Bullskin Trace) that you have pictured in your blog. It was built in 1803 and is listed on the National Historic Register as the William Winters house. If you would like to visit sometime to see the house or learn more about it, you can contact me. pallen at umr dot com