Directly in front of you is a fragment of the original road built to take men and supplies from the road below, now KY 1924, to the earthwork. This road is now a foot trail, but many of Clark County's original roads are still in use. As the maps below illustrate, most of the roads in this portion of the county were in existence well before 1860.
Opening the Wilderness
We take paved roads, highway maps, bridges and directional signs for granted. But when Clark County was formed in 1792, there were no maps or roads as we think of them, just two well-worn pack horse trails and a network of ill-defined paths. The lack of roads was one of the first issues faced by the new county commissioners. Roads were vital. Farmers needed roads to get their produce and livestock to market. They were needed to access iron works, saw mills, grist mills, ferries and fords. Communication depended on roads. It is no wonder that road building was the county court's highest priority.
Laws requiring men between the ages of 15 and 50 to spend a prescribed number of days building or maintaining roads in their precinct went some way toward rectifying the dismal state of roads in the county. In 1834, a new era of road building began when the first private turnpike company was chartered in Clark County. By the time of the Civil War, there were as many as a half dozen privately owned turnpike roads in the county, including the important Boonesboro Road connecting the ferry landing opposite Boonesborough (often spelled Boonesboro) with Winchester.
An Explosion of Roads
In the first half century of Clark County's existence, there was an explosion in road construction. The county Order Books bristle with notations of road building and improvement, and a map published in 1861 shows an extensive network of turnpikes and lesser roads.
Two roads recorded in Clark County Order Book No. 14 for 1860 probably provided at least partial access to the Civil War earthwork. The first ran over the ridgetop, connecting the property of M.B. Berry to the Boonesborough Turnpike. The 1861 map, left, shows a W. Berry owning land at or near the site where the earthwork was constructed in 1863. The second road, built "from opposite mouth of Otter Creek down Ky. River to Boonesborough," ran from the present location of Ford to the Boonesborough Ferry landing. It is shown on the 1877 map, right (on the map, Boonesborough is spelled Boonesboro).
Men, Mules, and Hard Labor
Road building in the 18th and early 19th century was a tremendous undertaking. Topographic barriers—watercourses, hills and ravines—had to be overcome. Landowners had to be placated. Money had to be raised to fund construction, which required laborers, equipment, horses and mules in large numbers.