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Old York Road topic of program here

Posted on June 8, 2021

Updated on June 9, 2021

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The port at York was a vital part of the transportation system in the early settlement days of the eastern section of Illinois. Contributed photo

The port at York was a vital part of the transportation system in the early settlement days of the eastern section of Illinois. Contributed photo

A road that played a vital role in the early settlement of Illinois will be the topic of an upcoming presentation at the Crawford County Historical Museum.
Information on “The Old York Road” and “1830 Lincoln Way” will be shared by Barbara Ross and Carolyn Stephens at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 27 at the museum in Robinson. The presentation is open to the public.
The York Road started out as an ancient buffalo trace. Native Americans used the same path. The early pioneers also traveled this way with the settlers building their homes near it and improving it into a road their wagons could travel on.
The trail ranged in size from just big enough to get a horse through to wide enough for a wagon or a stagecoach to pass by another traveler.
Also, there were alternate routes built for various reasons. In summer, the prairie grass might have been too high to travel through or it might be necessary to journey to where water was available. In spring, there might be too much water, forcing travelers to go around floods. At times, there was a danger of Indian attacks.
 Only faint traces of the road exist today.
The talk will take the 1800s York Road from Palestine in Crawford County to the Wabash River at York in Clark County to Charleston in Coles County.  
Palestine was where the settlers traveled for land grants, the Wabash River at York was where all the commerce went in and out the port and Charleston was where trails spread throughout Illinois.
The study includes the disputed Lincoln Way of 1830, the route taken by the Lincoln family when they came to Illinois.
Twenty-two different versions of this route were submitted to the Illinois General Assembly in the early 1900s. It became a political issue between towns as to where Abraham Lincoln first traveled through Illinois. Still, most versions of the route had the Lincoln family journey part of the way on the York Trail.
Ross will discuss the development of the York to Palestine trail and focus on early settlers, churches, cemeteries and doctors.
Stephens, an adjunct faculty member at Lakeland College, was awarded a grant to study the road. The money is being used to purchase old maps and books and to pay for printing and computer tech support.
Stephens is using the ArcGis Geographical Information computer program to map the road and embed, at chosen points, history such as old maps, historic surveyor reports and the stories of landowners, doctors, churches, schools, cemeteries and towns.
It is an infinite project as ArcGIS can be changed as new information is found or more information can be embedded in the project.
More than 136 people helped with this project as well as many organizations in Clark, Coles and Crawford counties.

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