The Cobbs of Southeastern Tennessee
Routes of Immigration
“You can’t get there from here!”
The old cliché quoted above virtually applies to southeastern Tennessee. A look at the maps will show that the Great Smoky Mountains parallels the North Carolina-Tennessee border which runs in a northeast-southwest direction. There were several gaps through the mountains at the northeastern corner that would have allowed difficult but usable passage from Virginia and North Carolina into Tennessee, in current Sullivan and Carter counties. Then from there, the Warrior’s Trail followed the western slope of the Smokies down to roughly Chattanooga. A secondary road connecting Ashville, North Carolina, with Knoxville, Tennessee, intersected the Warrior’s Trail in present Cocke County, Tennessee.
Those people coming from lower North Carolina and South Carolina had two options. First, they may have taken the Lower Cherokee Trail as far as the Georgia border, then the Unicoi (or Unaka) Turnpike up through present Cherokee County, North Carolina, and into present Polk County, Tennessee. Although useable, this route was barely an established trail and did involve traversing some extremely difficult mountainous country. The other option was to enter southeastern Tennessee, by flatboat on the Little Tennessee River.
Maps showing early southeastern Tennessee:
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