The Early Roads of Carolina

The roads built during the rule of the Lords Proprietors were very few, and very unimpressive

Between 1663 and 1729, there were no significant roads constructed in Carolina. Folks either used the existing Indian trails, the few navigable rivers, or the Atlantic Ocean and associated inlets and sounds. As the handful of towns sprang up, they were all along waterways, just so the people could get to them from other locations. Of course, there were streets in these few towns, but even in the largest town, Charles Town, the streets were simply sand, with no improvements until after the American Revolution.

As the towns of New London and Dorchester were established near Charles Town, the Indian trails were only slightly improved by the colonists, but these served as the basis for true roads to be hacked away from the coast.

In the Albemarle region, no roads were built between the towns of Bath, Edenton, and New Bern. People did expand the Indian trails a little, and a few ferries were put into operation to facilitate travel between the new centers of trade.

Near the end of the Lords Proprietors' rule, the Cape Fear River area began to be settled, and the local plantation owners began carving out short roads from their plantations to the rough beginnings of New Town, which soon became Wilmington during the Royal Colony period.

Roads Out of Charles Town

Roads Along the Cape Fear

The Royal Colonies Period

The King's Highway

The Great Wagon Road

The Fall Line Road

The Upper Road

All Major Roads During the Royal Period

In 1660, upon gaining the Crown and the royalty being re-instated after the English Civil War and the Cromwellian rule, King Charles II asked the governors of his colonies to establish a communication between the colonies, but it was long after his death before the King's Highway was actually completed. Started in the 1670s between New York City and Boston, our country's first major highway (if you want to call it that) began to grow southward. The sections constructed in Carolina were not started until 1732, but they were completed in 1735.

These and later roads will be discussed more in this website in the individual sections of North Carolina and South Carolina. 


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