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Monday, November 21, 2016

The "A Path By Any Name Is Still A Path" Story

Sign in Lancaster County Park
It was an ordinary day.  Heading south on Prince Street towards the small town of Willow Street.  After passing the Meadia Heights Golf Club on SR222 South, I turned left onto Golf Road.  Wasn't long before I passed the clubhouse and headed toward Lancaster County  Central Park.  As I rounded a sweeping right turn, there on the hill in front of me, to the right, was the sign.  Big green sign declared: "Great Indian Warrior Trading Path."  Seems that Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was part of the path that led thousands of colonial Americans south to settle in Virginia and the Carolina's.  The bright green plaque says the road was the most heavily traveled road in Colonial America that linked areas from the Great Lakes to Augusta, Georgia.  
Drawing showing The Great Wagon Road
The path, or road, was laid on ancient animal and Native American trading and warrior routes.  The plaque doesn't say that Golf Road was the actual path, but that it was in the vicinity of what was alleged to be the path.  Nearby, in 1979, archaeologists unearthed Native American graves that led people to believe that this possibly was the actual path that transported people from north to south.  The pathway actually was called the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road and passed by Philadelphia, Lancaster, York and Gettysburg.  The path was also known as the Great Wagon Road.  Many a Conestoga Wagon traveled on the road during the eighteenth century as new immigrants traveled along the road searching for more plentiful and cheaper land.  Many Mennonites found their way to Virgina's Shenandoah Valley while Pennsylvania Moravians settled in Salem, North Carolina.  Fifteen years ago it was decided by the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists that one marker would be erected in each state along the Great Wagon Road.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Clark were responsible for the signs and it was decided, since Mrs. Clark's ancestors used the road to get from Lancaster to Virginia, that the sign in Pennsylvania would be in Lancaster.  Since Native Indian remains and artifacts were found on the archaeological dig in Lancaster County Park, it would be a great location to mark the Great Indian Warrior Trading Path.  No one will ever know if the plaque is actually located on the original path, but it's as good a place as any other place along the alleged trail.  It was documented that the trail ran on an Indian path through nearby Willow Street and Conestoga Indian Town to Washington Boro.  The trial was developed through Indian Treaties among the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as 19 chiefs of Iroquois League of Five Nations in 1685 and 1722 according to the plaque.  What at one time were dirt trails traveled by ancient behomoths, Native American Indians and wagon trains are now asphalt covered roads that carry vehicles that were only visions in the minds of those travelers.  And now I can add my name to the list of travelers who perhaps at one time wandered this trading path in search of the American Dream.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   


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