The Warrior's Path was as crucial to Manchester's history as the Wilderness Road a few miles to the west was to Kentucky's. The path, the main route of a series of trails Indians used to travel between the area north of the Ohio River and the Smokey Mountains ran right through the heart of what would become Clay County and right through what would become Manchester as well. It was the viaduct that brought the first explorers and hunters to the Goose Creek area, such as Dr. Thomas Walkers, at right, and Daniel Boone, below.
It was the buffalo, seeking out the salt licks for which Manchester and Clay County would become famous, who made the path originally. Indians naturally used the well-worn path for hundreds of years before the white man came. The first of those was said to be an Indian captive named Gabriel Arthur who, in 1674 used the path to escape from his captivity in the north to make his way back to his exploration party back in Tennessee.
In May of 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker, who had built the first structure in Kentucky during his explorations around the Cumberland River in present-day Knox County, used the path to head back home to Virginia after he concluded that the territory was unsuitable for settlement. Walker kept a detailed diary which allows historians to follow his route home, and which took him through what is present-day Manchester.
The next documented case of a non-Indian to travel the path was long hunter Daniel Boone who, along with his party, used it to range all the way to the Kentucky River in 1769. It would be several years before Boone blazed what became known as the Wilderness Road to the west.
The path, which enters Clay County from Knox County at "War Gap" at the head of Otter Creek, and exits at "Clay Gap" at the head of Grassy Branch of Little Sextons into Owsley, (red dotted line on tour map) continued to be of importance to settlers entering the county beginning about 1783 (the end of the Revolution), and during the Civil War when Union troops used it as an escape route from their seige at Cumberland Gap. Other than that, the ancient path was of less importance to the development of Manchester since roads for transportation of salt were developed by the state which provided for easier travel from about 1802 onward.
Warrior's Path was crucial to the early history of Manchester
Dr. Thomas Walker