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Micky Gramlin
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Micky Gramlin   My Press Releases

The Buffalo Trace

Published on 3/26/2018
For additional information  Click Here


Image result for the historic buffalo trace



An historic travelway in southern Indiana, that has been around for centuries -  begins today in the modern town of Clarksville,at the Falls of the Ohio on the Ohio River.

This first road across southern Indiana was created from the seasonal migration of the American bison moving from the salt licks of Kentucky to the prairie grass of Illinois.




Hoosier National Forest


Thousands of the bison would come together to cross the Ohio River at its shallowest point. The bison then blazed a trail across Indiana to Vincennes, where they would then cross another river, the Wabash. At this point their trek together would end as they scattered to graze on the Illinois prairie grass.

“Labeled the “Old Buffalo Trace” or the "Vincennes Trace," varying from 12 to 20 feet wide, the bison in some places on the trace had worn solid rock down to a depth of 12 feet. A road bed as well engineered and more durable than any road built today.”


Image result for indiana buffalo trace in pencil 1816

The bison provided the Native American Indians their very basis of life.  It was their food source, clothing and provided their shelter. Some parts of the bison were used to make their household items and to make their weapons. 

During the bisons annual migrations, following them, Indians would set up camps nearby the trace, so that food and other needs could be replenished. These later became established camps and then known as villages and towns, after the westward expansion of settlements began.

As with the bison, the trace was used to push westward from Louisville to Vincennes, and became an important key to the early development of trails that moved settlers even farther westward.


Image result for steamboat travel on the historic buffalo trace in pencil 1816


Most would book passage to Louisville on a riverboat, disembark then travel on the trace to Vincennes where they bought provisions for their trek across the prairies of Illinois to Missouri.

The trace became the first western mail route to be established and was carried weekly by 2 men that traveled the 130 miles by foot. In the year 1812, the first stage coach arrived and ran from New Albany to Vincennes.

In 1812, the trace had become so important to commercial trade in the area, that mounted troops began their patrolling  to protect travelers from wild animals and Indian attacks.



Map of the Buffalo Trace

Source Wikipedia


The trace remained a primary route after the statehood of Indiana in 1816.

The Buffalo Trace is slowly fading into obscurity

Some of the the trace is part road,used by commuters to get to their jobs and needed shopping. In other areas fenced in on private property. Yet in other parts grown over by vegetation.

But if you look carefully enough, you can still find parts of this historic trail. You can still stand and walk where the buffalo once roamed. You could even shut your eyes and feel the remnants of the powerful energy of the bison racing to the open prairies of Illinois.

Put your ear to the ground and hear the thunder of their hooves as they blaze across the trace, through the hillsides and the valleys and finally on across the Wabash River.

Millions of hooves for centuries that carved out a natural trail that eventually became an important part of American history.

In the 1910 book Early Indiana: Trails and Surveys by George R. Wilson puts the matter in historic perspective: “The trails and traces were great highways over which civilization came into the wilderness. Wild animals often followed the trails, trappers followed the game and settlers followed the trappers.”


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Micky Gramlin 

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