Friday, August 7, 2020

Cumberland Pass

TL;DR - East and west has to be our scope; that is, the totality of the American experience over the four centuries.  Oh yes, a mountain named Harvard. It's in an out-of-the-way place but close enough to Cumberland Pass, in the Rockies. There is another pass in the east through Cumberland Gap. Some went through the eastern pass on the way west; in those days, the travelers would have skirted those higher area as the travel was hard enough without needing extra thrills thrown in, as we see now with technology providing the facility for frivolity.


This is a little diversion, related to western movement: 3 trails, Final migration, and more. We have two passes out of many that those migrating west had to handle with a similar name: Cumberland Gap and Cumberland Pass. The former was a training pass out of North Carolina, associated with Daniel Boone leading people west. He ended up in Missouri, early. The latter represents much higher elevations (11k more feet). Fortunately, even out west, there were choices found that alleviated some of the agony of the work required in those days. One consequence of moving was that record keeping, many times, lagged seriously leaving gaps, many times filled with effort but also becoming brick walls.

We wrote of Cumberland Gap, earlier. The pass through this gap allowed movement toward Tennessee and Kentucky and then all points west. Even with a height of a mere several hundreds of feet, traversing the gap would have required arduous work. The use of 'training' suggests that anyone starting out with this pass on the way to Oregon still had lots work to accomplish of a type of daily grind.

Also, quoting Wikipedia:
  • The passage created by Cumberland Gap was well traveled by Native Americans long before the arrival of European-American settlers. The passage through the gap was originally created by herds of woodland buffalo that traveled across it over thousands of years, drawn by the abundance of salt in the region. The earliest written account of Cumberland Gap dates to the 1670s, by Abraham Wood of Virginia.
Now, the other pass? It's in the Rockies, in Colorado's Gunnison County, to be specific. Now, this pass was not on any of the major trails that were heavily used. For the most part, there were easier passes (comparatively, to each other, but still requiring hard work, endurance, and carefulness) for those who were heavily laden. Taking a look at passes on the Oregon Trail will give some idea of this.

Cumberland Pass is in the Sawatch RangeTincup CO is on one side of the pass; on the other side is Pitkin CO. Both of these are mining towns which is a type of pioneering effort. For the past few months, we have been looking at pioneer families which is why Cumberland Gap was mentioned. Then, we remembered the other Cumberland pass. Both are named for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. Both too show the influence of England and New England.

For instance, Mt. Harvard is in this range which includes several mountains that are over 14k feet in height. One interest in this area is that it pinpoints the Continental Divide. As the map shows, with the Mississippi's drainage, we had people leaving the right side, heading to the left. Not only were there rivers to cross, each had many tributaries of various sizes.

So, this pass in Colorado is near where the flow changes. We will have a little more to say about rivers. We mentioned Gardner River which goes to the Pacific. This is further west and north of Cumberland Pass where the Snake (Columbia) and the Gardner River (Missouri) start, ending up in two different places.

The watershed of the
Mississippi River
cut the land through
which the pioneers
had to travel.
With regard to the 'training pass' mentioned above, we noted in a post (Final migration) the report of the group who left Massachusetts and traveled to Kansas. They founded Lawrence (and KU) among other things. But, they mention coming out of the Kansas City area on foot, camping by the Wakarusa, fording it and getting to what became Lawrence. As has been noted, this little river required techniques that became handy in the western mountains: tear down the wagon, lower, get it across, and back up, reassemble, gather everything that had been ported across. Time and again.

This map is to suggest how many times that sort of thing would have been necessary. And, storms, snow run-off, and such would have made crossing turbulent waters part of the concern. So, no interstates and air-conditioned cars. Too, follow the North & South Carolina line to Oregon (lower right to upper left - almost diagonal).   

Note: In the movement west, official recordings always trailed (lagged behind) the edge of the wave. How long this happened varied? There are lists that show when each location started to get regular in recording but that as elastic, too. Never did it just pop into place overnight. There would have been a transition period. So, genealogists with their lead feet? Oh yes, they like to talk as if their need for a document gives being to the ancestors of people who might have, now, holes in their paper trail. Guess what? That is categorically stupid (even Bayes would agree with that). So, what to do? Get more clever about filling in the pieces. Do this without due diligence? No, just stay out of the way and let the story be told as it is pieced together.

Remarks: Modified: 08/09/2020

08/07/2020 -- In this post, we are looking at two disparate spots that share a name, however there are many points in-between. Like Eudora, KS. Where "The Wakarusa meets the Kaw" is on their history site and is an example of local lore getting some attention. See "Along the Western Trails."

08/08/2020 -- Cumberland Pass in the west has the same name as that in the east known as the Gap. However, they represent the movement across the country which established the country. So many stories. Too, they created instances like poor Chloe being dissed by Plymouth people squatted in eastern Massachusetts. It's a large country out here, folks. So, I have now seen oodles of families with the same problem from the tip (Canadian border) all the way to the lower part of Texas. Has anyone really awakened to this? Not that I can see, otherwise I would not have the need for this type of post (Genealogy and Bayes).

08/08/2020 -- Following up on the theme of the difficulty of the cross-country trip, here is another view which is the Google-planned trip from North Carolina to Oregon. The little insert is a map of the Oregon trail which went through Gardner, KS. Later, the travelers went up the Missouri to where Omaha is and then ventured west meeting up with those who came out of Independence, MO.

Modern route,
courtesy of Google Maps
It is interesting how the modern highway system matches up with that the people settled on guided by those who had traveled trail. Reminds us of Jedediah's mapping of the California Interstate System.

08/28/2020 -- Having been researching some of the families of the frontier, it looks as if we ought to pick some as archetypal. For now, let's use Boone and Pike.

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