“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Beckley in Raleigh County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Indian Path

The Indian Path Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 21, 2014
1. The Indian Path Marker

Known as the "War Road", the "Hunter's Road", or simply the "Indian Path" by the time European explorers arrived in the 18th century, Paint Creek had long been a route of travel for Native Americans. Delawares, Mingoes, Ottawas, Senecas, Shawnees, Cherokees, Catawbas, and others regularly traveled Paint Creek to and from settlements in western Virginia. Indians frequently used the area as a staging ground for incursions into European settlements that were encroaching from the east.

When European explorers arrived, Paint Creek abounded with visual evidence of Native American activity, the most obvious evidence being the "painted trees" for which Paint Creek is named. Before European contact, many American Indian nations did not have written languages or alphabets. Some tribes used glyphic writing systems of symbols and pictures to transmit information. Along Paint Creek, many war and hunting parties painted pictographs on trees to transmit information about their exploits, or to mark trails. Early settlers named two prominent areas of painted trees near the present-day Raleigh/Fayette County line as "The Big Painted Trees" and "The Upper Painted Trees".

In 1755, Shawnee warriors abducted Mary Ingles and her two sons from their family's homestead near present-day Blacksburg, Virginia. The warriors led Mary down
Markers Near Entrance to Tamarack image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
2. Markers Near Entrance to Tamarack
Paint Creek en route to a Shawnee village near Portsmouth, Ohio. After a time, Mary and a fellow captive carried out a daring escape. With fierce determination and one tomahawk in hand, Mary began a treacherous 450 mile journey back to Virginia. Along the way, it is believed that Mary may have attempted to find her original route through Paint Creek, but was unsuccessful. Instead, Mary began a harrowing journey up the New River Gorge. Mary was found alive lying in a corn patch near present-day Eggleston, VA, and she eventually re-united with her husband.

Indian Trails of Raleigh County
The Indian path on Paint Creek was one of many similar paths that crisscrossed the area of present-day Raleigh County. One major junction of Indian trails was located just north of Pax near the site of "The Big Painted Trees". Here, a major path branched off and headed northwest toward the Coal River. Another path branched south toward the Bluestone River and Virginia. This path toward Virginia - often called the "Paint Creek Trail" - traveled through the east side of present-day Beckley where Kanawha Street is located.

[Photo captions read]
This re-creation of an 18th century Delaware (Lenape) Indian war party record depicts a military maneuver in western Virginia. Painted records such as these gave Paint Creek its distinctive name.
Photos by Doug Wood

2. This re-created war record represents the war party of a Delaware (Lenape) warrior named Two Bears. Such records were common throughout eastern North America.
Photos by John Boback

3. This is a re-creation of a Delaware (Lenape) hunting record. The actor is portraying a hunter using charcoal and bear grease as paint. Bark was stripped from a living tree to paint this record, and this was the typical method for making records.
Photo by Ed Robey
Erected by Paint Creek Scenic Trail and America's Byways.
Location. 37° 48.117′ N, 81° 12.986′ W. Marker is near Beckley, West Virginia, in Raleigh County. Click for map. Marker is at Tamarack, the West Virginia cultural heritage and artisan center. Tamarack is accessed from I-77 Exit 45. Marker is at or near this postal address: One Tamarack Park, Beckley WV 25801, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. From Agriculture to Mining (here, next to this marker); Mortality (within shouting distance of this marker); Bachelorís Shanty (approx. 1.6 miles away); Superintendent's House (approx. 1.7 miles away); Beckley (approx. 2.2 miles away); Civil War Site (approx. 2.2 miles away); The Attar Center (approx. 2.2 miles away); Eccles Mine Explosions (approx. 2.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Beckley.
Also see . . .
1. The Story of Paint Creek. (Submitted on July 7, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
2. Paint Creek Scenic Trail: A West Virginia Scenic Byway. (Submitted on July 7, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
3. Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. (Submitted on July 7, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
Categories. Colonial EraNative AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 315 times since then and 102 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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