John Anderson built his blockhouse in the East Carter’s Valley section of Scott County sometime before 1778. Situated on the edge of the Wilderness Trail, it became an important stop-over for travelers who gathered at the blockhouse until a sufficient number of people and rifles made it relatively safe to proceed on their journey west. From the blockhouse, these settlers would travel for at least two weeks to the Cumberland Gap, through which they would voyage into Kentucky. Approximately 300,000 people walked and led their pack horses along this trail on their way toward their dreams, somwhere to the west.
The blockhouse is a fortified building, constructed to be easily defendable. The top story is wider than the lower, and openings in the overhanging story allowed defenders to fire down upon anyone who approached the building. The chimney is located within the structure so that attackers could not use it as a way to enter the building.
The Cherokee arrive at the Blockhouse with skins to trade but the trade goes bad when one of the Cherokee claims to have been sold a defective rifle. Photo by Ned Jilton II
The replica found at Natural Tunnel State Park was built in 2003 by the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association. Adjacent to the blockhouse is the Wilderness Road Blockhouse Visitor Center that provides guests with more information on life in the 1700’s and at the blockhouse. The annual “Trade Faire and Muster” is held the last weekend in April at the Blockhouse, while the “Harvest Celebration” is held the last weekend in October.
The blockhouse and visitor center are open May through October on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 – 4 p.m.