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One of upwards of 300 small monuments to commemorate Daniel Boone's travels, the Boone Trail highway marker in Sugar Grove, North Carolina is just off the beaten path of Old Highway 421. The effort of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Boone Trail Highway Memorial Association, and local, community sponsors, this forty year project is a quaint part of western Carolina history that deserves more exploring. The Boone Trail markers are a fairly eclectic collection of Native American motifs, U.S. military memorabilia, and outside artistic contributions, blended together to support a sense of history but also present day relevance.

  • Highway marker #10
  • Joseph Hampton Rich, 1874-1949
  • Member certification for the Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association, Inc.
  • Portrait of Daniel Boone (1734-1820) by Alonzo Chappel

Highway marker #10 in Sugar Grove, North Carolina is one of many small monuments to commemorate the pioneering legacy of Daniel Boone. The project was first initiated by Joseph Hampton Rich of Davie County, North Carolina in an attempt to draw government interest to the underdeveloped western roadways of rural North Carolina. The idea of the “Good Roads Movement” was born in the early twentieth century, prompting a system for public taxation to provide funding for a much needed state system of roads and highways. In an attempt to rise to progressive status, W. A. McGrit posed a Good Roads convention resolution to Governor Bickett to make North Carolina “one big neighborhood” and accessible by all.

J. Hampton Rich’s ploy was to use Daniel Boone’s legacy for his the Good Road movement project. Over a span of twenty or so years, Rich produced and placed his commemorative monuments across the Ole North State. Other markers can be found in unrelated places as far away as San Francisco, California. At the cusp of his infamous project, Rich established the Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association to propagate the necessity of better roads but also with a concern for history and heritage to promote patriotism. Rich claimed the placement of more than 300 markers but only sixty are currently known and 150 accurately documented. The monuments are numbered but only in terms of order of discovery not in any historical or chronological system. 

The mysterious tablets mounted in various shaped stones with particular decoration all contain images of Daniel Boone, Cherokee Chief Sequoia, various animals, Abraham Lincoln and Davey Crockett in relief. These images were produced in metal from the Battleship USS Maine after its mysterious destruction in 1898. There is still remanence of wording from the original ship but it is doubtful that every plaque was made from the same salvaged material. 

Of the hundred of tablets of the Boone Highway, different styles have been attributed to different periods in the early twentieth century. The masoned stone marker in Sugar Gove, North Carolina, known as Style-3, shows Daniel Boone and his hunting dog in relief from an illustration by New York artist Alonzo Chapel. The arrowhead-like structure is created from natural, masoned stones with decorations of arrowheads set in mortar. It is told that the students of Cove Creek High School were encouraged to collect these arrowheads and contribute them as a small donation for the memorial. At the bottom of the marker is a bison shaped plaque with the word “trail.”

There are forty-eight markers recorded through and some have even been sold at auction or replaced. From Virginia, west to Kentucky and back south through North Carolina, these curious markers were placed to promote projects in public service while educating the local community in an age of automobile developments while also commemorating Daniel Boone’s famous travels on foot.

"Boone Trail Highway Marker (#10), Sugar Grove." Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina. 19 March 2010. Web. 10 October 2017.

Jones, Randell. "Markers for Boone's trail have Rich history."  Journal West. 26 November 2013. Web. 10 October 2017.

"Daniel Boone Trail Markers." 2017. Web. 10 October 2017.

"The Maine explodes - Feb. 15, 1898." 2009. Web. 10 October 2017.

Alonzo Chappel - The Complete Works. 2002-2017. Web. 10 October 2017.

"The Good Roads movement." UNC School of Education - Learn NC. Web. 11 October 2017.