Lecture #7 – The Great Wagon Road

Topic:
Road to Everywhere, Road to Nowhere: Exploring Later Use of the Great Wagon Road on the Westmoreland Farm, Winston-Salem, NC

Guest Speaker:
Rachel Sites, PhD
Historical Interpreter & Independent Scholar

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ABSTRACT

The Great Wagon Road served as a highway for the settlers moving along the colonial frontier. The Moravians who eventually established a series of settlements in Wachovia, or Dobbs Parish, in North Carolina were some of the better documented early travelers. The Wagon Road became increasingly important as more people moved through the Shenandoah Valley, building towns and slowly changing a wild frontier into a more settled backcountry.  The Road eventually faded out of importance, with towns and cities forming their own transportation infrastructures and shifting centers of population away from the Road. Each family that traveled the Road had their own journey that would impact future generations, even as parts of the Road itself were lost to obscurity.

A recent archaeological excavation on a corner of the original Wachovia Tract illuminated later, significantly different, use of the forgotten Road by descendants of one of the families to traverse the Road. 

BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Rachel Sites studied archaeology at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, specializing in funerary archaeology, and the University of Sheffield in England, focusing on prehistory and the economics of domestic architecture. She has excavated on three continents, with projects including prehistoric, Classical, and historic periods. While at the Frontier Culture Museum, she has designed International Archaeology Day programming and is currently producing a museum podcast, to be unveiled this month.

This year’s lecture series is brought to you by a generous grant from Virginia Humanities.

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