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The Occaneechi Path or "Trading Path," also called the "Indian Trading Path," "Catawba Path," "Catawba Road," "Indian Road," or "Warriors' Path" was a corridor of roads and trails (not just one path) connecting the Piedmont region including Chesapeake Bay (Petersburg, VA), Occaneechi Village (Clarksville, VA), the Waxhaws (Charlotte, NC), and Cherokee villages of the Carolinas and Georgia (Augusta, GA). Along the way several other significant pathways eventually merged with or forked off this path including parts of the Upper Road, the Fall Line Road, the Great Valley Road (South Fork), and the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path. Pack caravans plied the Occaneechi Path with guns, gunpowder, knives, jewelry, blankets, and hatchets in trade for furs and deerskins. The length of the Occaneechi Path from the Petersburg, Virginia to Augusta, Georgia was roughly 510 miles (820 km).
The path was named after the Occaneechi (also Occoneechee, Akenatzy), a small but important tribe who acted as trading middlemen, and who lived primarily on a four-mile long island on the Dan and Roanoke rivers near present-day Clarksville, Virginia. At first the Occaneechi served as contacts between Europeans and Cherokee and other interior tribes. Because of their trade contacts their language was widely used and understood by the leaders of many nations.
The Occaneechi Path was well enough designed to be roughly followed by railroads and parts of Interstate Highways 85, 77, and 20.
As roads developed in America, settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.
- Virginia: Prince George, Dinwiddie, Brunswick, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg
- North Carolina: Granville, Durham, Orange, Alamance, Guilford, Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg
- A fork: Southwest of the Catawba River the Occaneechi Path forked. The west fork (Lower Cherokee Traders' Path) went to Cherokee villages. The south fork headed toward present-day Augusta, Georgia.
- South Carolina: York, Chester, Lancaster, Kershaw, Fairfield, Richland, Lexington, Aiken
- Georgia: Columbia, Richmond
Trail merges and splits. The Occaneechi Path joins the Fall Line Road at Petersburg, VA, and follows the same path to Rock Hill, SC.
Settlers and Records
No lists of settlers who used the Occaneechi Path are known to exist. However, local and county histories along the road may reveal that many of the first pioneer settlers arrived from places to the northeast along the route.
- "History of Nations Ford," Catawba Riverkeeper, http://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/about-the-catawba/history-of-nations-ford (accessed 26 January 2011), describes the history of the Catawba River ford near present-day Rock Hill, South Carolina. This ford was prominent on the Occaneechi Path.