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Cumberland Gap 1986 National Park Service narrated by Lorne Greene 11min

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Published on Apr 19, 2012

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"...Cumberland Gap as a special place of passing for thousands of years--a place with a long relationship to the affairs of man. It relates the important role the gap played in opening the West to settlement."

Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberla...

Cumberland Gap (el. 1,600 ft (490 m)) is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains region of the Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Cumberland Water Gap, at the juncture of the U.S. states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Famous in American history for its role as one key passageway through the lower central Appalachians, it was an important part of the Wilderness Road and is now part of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The Cumberland Gap was discovered in 1750 by Dr. Thomas Walker, a Virginia physician and explorer. Long used by Native Americans, the path was widened by a team of loggers led by Daniel Boone, making it accessible to pioneers who used it to journey into the western frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Cumberland Gap is located just north of the spot where the current-day states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia meet. The nearby town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee takes its name from the pass.

The gap was named for Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who had many places named for him in the American colonies after the Battle of Culloden. The explorer Thomas Walker gave the name to the Cumberland River in 1750, and the name soon spread to many other features in the region, such as the Cumberland Gap. In 1769 Joseph Martin built a fort nearby at present-day Rose Hill, Virginia, on behalf of Dr. Walker's land claimants. But Martin and his men were chased out of the area by Native Americans, and Martin himself did not return until 1775.

In 1775 Daniel Boone, hired by the Transylvania Company arrived in the region leading a company of men to widen the path through the gap to make settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee easier. On his arrival, Boone discovered that Martin had beaten him to Powell Valley, where Martin and his men were clearing land for their own settlement -- the westernmost settlement in English colonial America at the time. By the 1790s the trail that Boone and his men built was widened to accommodate wagon traffic.

Several American Civil War engagements were centered in and around the Cumberland Gap and are sometimes called Battle of the Cumberland Gap. In June 1862, Union Army General George W. Morgan captured the gap for the Union. In September of that year, Confederate States Army forces under Edmund Kirby Smith occupied the Gap during General Braxton Bragg's Kentucky Invasion. The following year, in a bloodless engagement in September 1863, Union Army troops under General Ambrose Burnside forced the surrender of 2,300 Confederates defending the gap, gaining Union control of the gap for the remainder of the war.

It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 migrants passed through the gap on their way into Kentucky and the Ohio Valley before 1810. Today 18,000 cars pass beneath the site daily, and 1,200,000 people visit the park on the site annually.

U.S. Route 25E passed overland through the gap before the completion of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel in 1996. The original trail was then restored...

- Cumberland Gap has lent its name to a popular folk song recorded and performed by American folk and bluegrass musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Earl Scruggs and British skiffle artists such as Lonnie Donegan and the Vipers Skiffle Group.
- The gap has been mentioned in many songs, including the Old Crow Medicine Show song "Wagon Wheel" co-written by Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor, the song "The Ballad of Thunder Road", and the song "Mighty Joe Moon" by American band Grant Lee Buffalo.
- In 1889 a United States Senator voted against having a World's Fair, the fair Chicago's bid eventually won, "and out of sheer cussedness voted for Cumberland Gap" as the proposed site.
- In the episode "The Red Dot" of the NBC situation comedy Seinfeld, Jerry references the Cumberland Gap in his retort to a drunk heckler...

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