Mapping Kentucky's Frontier Trails Through Geographical Information and Cartographic Applications

K Raitz, Jeffrey Levy, Richard Gilbreath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Historical first-generation frontier roads in America's trans-Appalachian West often evolved from buffalo and Indian trails into pioneer routeways such as Daniel Boone's Trace and, eventually, into twentieth-century hard-surface highways. Period cartographers found these routes difficult to document accurately, and present-day scholars often depict them only on small-scale maps, which simply illustrate connections between origin and destination points. Accurately mapping Kentucky's first-generation roads at large scale requires detailed site and contextual topographic information over long distances, but historical maps, diaries, surveyors' reports, and other period documents often lack sufficient detail for route related sites to support mapping. Use of gis software enables positioning historical routes onto U.S. Geological Survey contour- and hill-shaded base maps by mapping verifiable locations and linking them through interpretation of best-choice routes that consider frontier migrants' transportation priorities, such as direction, distance, gradient, and land-surface character. Keywords: gis, historical maps, historical roads, mapping, topographic surface.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)312-335
Number of pages24
JournalGeographical Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


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