Boone Trail Highway Marker (#35), Chapel Hill
This Boone Trail Highway marker shows an image in relief of Daniel Boone and his hunting dog taken from an 1861 illustration by Alonzo Chapel. It is attached to the front of a small block of granite. The tablet is a steel Style-2 which was seen as early as 1919, used through 1926 and distinguished by the BOONE TRAIL HIGHWAY caption being in block letters. The bottom inscription is not visible being buried beneath dirt and mulch. That this marker was attached to a small granite block is unusual. Most commonly they were attached to large arrowhead shaped monuments much like the one in Hillsborough.
This Boone Highway marker was numbered 35 by Everett G. Marshall. His interest and research of the markers led to the book, Rich Man: Daniel Boone. The numbering system was simply the order in which he found or became aware of a marker.
Tablet, top: BOONE TRAIL HIGHWAY
Bottom: METAL FROM BATTLESHIP MAINE IN TABLET / DANIEL BOONE
Circa 1923. Re-dedication: March 4, 1938
35.914180 , -79.052970 View in Geobrowse
"J. Hampton Rich," from the "Images of North Carolina" digital collection, Davie County Public Library, (accessed January 21, 2015) Link
The Daily Tarheel (Chapel Hill, NC), October 10, 1923
Jones Randell. “Markers for Boone’s Trail Have Rich History,” Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, NC), November 26, 2013, (accessed February 15, 2017) Link
Jones, H.G. “Rich, Joseph Hampton,” NCPedia.org, (accessed March 22, 1917) Link
Marshall, Everett G. Rich Man: Daniel Boone (Dugspur, VA: Sugar Tree Enterprises, 2003)
Stanford, Raney. “Shades of Dan’l Boone! Says J.H. Rich,” The Daily Tarheel (Chapel Hill, NC), February 8, 1948
“Boone Trail Marker #35-Chapel Hill, NC,” Waymarking.com, (accessed March 15, 2017) Link
“Trail Marker Is Rededicated Here by Townspeople,” The Daily Tarheel (Chapel Hill, NC), March 5, 1938
“Trail Marker to Be Rededicated This Afternoon,” The Daily Tarheel (Chapel Hill, NC), March 4, 1938
Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association
J. Hampton Rich was a well-known figure in North Carolina’s “Good
Roads Movement” during the early 20th Century when public pressure
was used to force enhancements in the public highway system.
Attaining minor celebrity status he eventually extended his vision
beyond the borders of his home state. Using the legacy of Daniel
Boone as a hook, he first began to cross North Carolina and then the
United States drumming up support for commemorative highway markers.
Between 1917 and 1938 Rich was one of the most prolific commemorators
in the United States. He claimed responsibility for hundreds of
markers, some in places that had no connection to Boone at all like
Washington, D.C.; Boston, Massachusetts; Pike’s Peak, Colorado and at
the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Rich was born in 1874 on land where the family of Daniel Boone may have once lived. What is certain though is that Daniel Boone spent many of his 21 years in North Carolina living in the area near Mocksville in Davie County and surely Rich's lifelong passion for Boone was influenced by his immersion in local lore surrounding the famous frontiersman. Rich, who became a well-known newspaper man in Winston-Salem, also developed a passion for good highways in the state. Very likely taking a lead from a series of markers to Boone placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution beginning in 1912, Rich combined his two passions and came to the idea of capitalizing on the pioneer’s fame as a way to encourage the building of better roads.
In 1913, Rich established the Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association with the chief purpose to raise awareness of the need for better roads in North Carolina. Rich also wanted to educate the public about the history and heritage of the pioneer era and promote patriotism. Beginning with the first documented marker, placed at East Bend in Yadkin County in 1917, Rich claimed to have placed about 360 tablets across the United States by 1938. Of that number, (which came from Rich) less than 60 originals are still known to exist and it may be impossible to ever know how many were actually incorporated into a highway memorial. Although it is known that he sold some in the early years Riches method of operation was typically to give a tablet, sometimes multiple tablets, to a community with their promise to raise funds to erect the highway marker. In some cases it was years before a marker was ever constructed and it is almost certain that many markers were never completed. The number of markers with documented proof of being completed is less than 150. As more digitally preserved newspapers from the period become available this number will likely increase.
Each tablet with the image of Daniel Boone includes wording that it contains metal from the Battleship USS Maine sunk in Havana harbor in 1898 at the outset of the Spanish-American War. In 1916 with the help of then Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, Rich had acquired 300 pounds of metal salvaged from the ship. It is questionable that each plaque actually contained some of this metal. In a 1948 article from “The Daily Tar Heel” Rich is quoted as saying “the first tablets contained... metal from the battleship.” In addition to those featuring Daniel Boone, Rich also created tablets featuring “Cherokee Chief Sequoia” and a bison in an effort to mark ancient buffalo traces used by Native American and then Colonial settlers from the coast at Wilmington through the Great Smoky Mountains in the west. Very few of these were produced and few examples remain. Other efforts include tablets to Abraham Lincoln and possibly Davey Crockett. Regardless of the image on the tablet, these are lumped together under the heading of Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association markers. The best current resource is Rich Man: Daniel Boone by Gary Marshall. His research efforts and the book’s publication in 2003 generated interest in finding and protecting the remaining markers.
Rich lived in Chapel Hill in the years prior to his death in 1949 where he could be seen “striding down the village streets wearing his coon skin cap and maybe with his long rifle thrown over one arm.” He was also "apt any day to walk into one of the University’s history classes clad in his furry cap, and always on these occasions he is introduced to the students by the professors as Daniel Boone."
The marker was re-dedicated in March 1938 having been removed for the widening of Franklin Street. Replacing the marker was delayed after it was questioned if Daniel Boone had ever passed through the area. The marker re-dedication proceeded only after court records from Granville County showed that Daniel Boone had once bought a horse from Colonel Robert Burton there.
The marker is located on the University campus side of E. Franklin St. across from the old Chapel Hill Post Office. A Jefferson Davis Highway marker is a few yards away.
The memorial marker rests in a narrow landscape area that separates Franklin St. from the sidewalk along McCorkle Place.
The marker is near its original location but was moved to accommodate the widening of Franklin Street. It originally faced towards the street.