Early settlers used two main routes to travel between important trade centers in the region.
The Goshen Road trail led from Shawneetown to the Edwardsville-Alton-Goshen area, while the Shawneetown to Kaskaskia Trail brought traffic into Kaskaskia, site of the first state capital.
"They were the interstates of the 19th Century, the major routes to get from one side of the state to the other," local historian Jon Musgrave said.
Settlers could travel on the early pioneer trails to Kaskaskia or take the northwest route to the Goshen community.
The trails evolved from natural, or pioneer, traces, routes used by Native Americans and migrating animals.
Shawneetown, with a ferry across the Ohio River from Kentucky, was a major entry point for immigrants into the region. It was also near the saltworks in Equality.
The Shawneetown to Kaskaskia trail was important because at that time, the two communities were major trade centers and were the locations of land sale offices, where pioneers could plunk down $1.25 to $2 for an acre of land.
The Goshen Trail led to Goshen Settlement, an early American settlement in the land later to become Illinois. The settlement was important in part because it was just up the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the gateway to the west.
While parts of the trails still exist today, their usefulness declined as counties were created and roads were built with more direct routes to connect county seats, Musgrave said.
- From The Southern's Legacies of Little Egypt
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