The Royal Colony of North Carolina

The Upper Road

Built between 1748 and 1760, this important road connected the central parts of the Carolinas with Virginia, about sixty miles further west than the earlier Fall Line Road


In 1746, travelers on the Great Wagon Road at Big Springs, Virginia had to leave their wagons and use pack horses to continue, either due south into central North Carolina, or continue into the valleys of the Clinch, Powell, or Holston Rivers leading into western North Carolina, now Tennessee.

But in just a few years after the opening of the Pioneer's Road in 1746 (goes west from Alexandria, VA, not down into the Carolinas), the Upper Road became a wagon route as well. The Upper Road took off from the Fall Line Road (which is the same as U.S. Hwy 1 today) at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and paralleled the Fall Line through Virginia, but reached North Carolina some 60-70 miles west of the Fall Line Road.

A look at a modern road atlas of North Carolina shows the main population centers along Interstate 40 as Raleigh, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro and Winston-Salem — all communities that were first settled as a result of the Great Wagon Road or the Upper Road. The Upper Road is the only colonial wagon road that does not exist today as a modern highway — it crossed several streams and rivers that are now large manmade lakes.

Very little traffic came via eastern North Carolina into the western regions, due to the lack of wagon roads. Virtually the entire Piedmont region of North and South Carolina was settled via the Great Wagon Road, the Upper Road, and the Fall Line Road during the latter half of the 1700s.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved