Until the Illinois Country began to see widespread settlement, the territory’s many rivers served as the roads and interstate highways. But as settlement spread a transition from transportation on the rivers to roads began.
Beginning in 1822, Hubbard began moving his trade goods by pack ponies from his 80 acre farm on the Iroquois River north of Danville, south along an old buffalo trace, known as the Vincennes Trail. He took his hogs and cattle to sell at the population, transportation and market center of Vincennes, Indiana on the Wabash River. Later in the spring of 1822 he walked from his Iroquois River Station up the old Vincennes Trail to Chicago in three days. Following that he would use the trail to carry traded goods from Chicago to the south, and to bring his furs north. He established trading posts every forty to fifty miles. Over the following years traffic increased as settlers from the east moved into the Indiana and Illinois farmlands. Hubbard’s livestock, and their wagons, widened and hardened the trail into a road. It began to be known as Hubbard’s Trace or Hubbard’s Trail.
In 1834 the state legislature designated the Hubbard Trail as the first State Road. It was marked with milestones from Vincennes to Chicago. On most of the old trail’s route through Illinois today it is still marked as State Route 1. At its northern end in Chicago, Hubbard’s old trail is known as State Street.
When Hubbard visited his old Iroquois post with his 14 year old grandnephew in 1880, they found traces of the old trail still visible. The boy “jumped out of the carriage and ran some distance in the trail where I had walked fifty-eight years before.”
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