|The Goshen Trail
Before the Interstate and highway systems were built, most locations were connected by a series of trails. Some are well known, such as the Oregon
Trail, while others have been less popularized, like our own Goshen Trail.
The Goshen Trail connected Shawneetown, Illinois, an Ohio River crossing point, with the growing city of St. Louis, Missouri, as men and families
advanced west in search of new land and adventure. The trail ran northwest across the state, and interestingly, right alongside the east border of our
property, where the road is known locally as the Old Goshen Trail.
Comparing our trail map of 1810 with a new map of today, it is easy to see the areas where the trail has been replaced and re-routed, and where portions
of the trail remain. Oddly, the only portion of the approximately 150 mile trail that is still distinguishable is the 25 mile stretch from our farm to the city of
Mt. Vernon, Illinois.
One day, while in an adventuresome mood, we set off on an undertaking to drive as much of the 25 mile stretch as possible. Our drive took us from
gravel to hard-top to paved road, onward to gravel and then a dirt road. As we continued to travel, we envisioned ourselves as pioneers traveling with a
horse and wagon. We reflected on the difficulties and struggles, and also their joys and successes, as pioneers would near the end of their journey. As
we were nearing the end of our journey, the trail once again left the hard-top road and went through a small grove of trees and back to dirt. We were
beginning to wonder if it was a dead end road or private property, when suddenly we all felt a sense of excitement. There before us were wooden wagon
wheel tracks cut in the ground as the trail ran along the edge of a forest. We then had a very realistic look at what the Old Goshen Trail would have really
looked like. As we proceeded, we realized we were in Amish country, where they still use the trail much as it would have been used two hundred years
Shortly thereafter, our living history trip was completed as we arrived in Mt. Vernon, thus completing our journey. We had all gained a greater
appreciation of the pioneers and the trails that began the expansion of this great country, the United States of America.
Mark McDaniel (Prairie Proclamation January 2000)
Goshen, the land of plenty, must have been on the mind of the Reverend Badgley in the early 1800’s as
he traveled north into the unsettled region known as Madison County, Illinois. Returning to his
hometown of New Design, in Monroe County, he talked about a “New Goshen”- a place of grassy
prairie, fertile soil and large areas of timber and water. Nearly 200 years later, when we took our
pioneer trip west, we found ourselves on the same trail as Mr. Badgley, sharing his same sentiments of
abundant timber, grassy prairie, fertile soil and water as we purchased our farm now known as
While much of the trail has been replaced by highways and interstates, the route leaves in its wake
history such as the grave of Cynthia Cartwright, the daughter of circuit riding preacher Peter
Cartwright. She was killed in the night when a tree fell on her while they were sleeping. She is buried
on our property beside a tall tree along the road (see picture on front cover).
The old historic trail is now a mix of hard top, gravel, or dirt road and parts of it have even resorted
back to woodland or grass. Nevertheless, it continues to create history through the people who have
settled along its winding paths, taming the land for generations to come.
Mark D. McDaniel (Prairie Proclamation Volume 11, Issue #2)
|The Old Goshen Trail
|Meandering along the east side of Providence Prairie is a long forgotten slice of
history known as the “Old Goshen Trail.” In the early 1800’s, this path was the
main east/west route in Illinois allowing passage from the Cumberland Gap to
the St. Louis area. As settlers crossed the Ohio River into the town now known
as Old Shawneetown, they traveled in a North West direction establishing
settlements along the way. The pathway continued for 150 to 200 miles,
avoiding large streams by following much of the Ohio and Mississippi River
watershed divide, ending at a settlement just north of St Louis called Goshen.
Settlers could then travel by boat down the Mississippi River to St. Louis if they