Historical Marker #1188 in Letcher County notes the location of the Scuttle Hole Gap Road, a thoroughfare used by the mountain community since the early nineteenth century.
During Kentucky’s early history, travel through the Appalachian Mountains was difficult at best. Many communities grew in isolation, and the area’s mountains, rivers, and streams were difficult to navigate. What may take an hour’s travel on level ground can be more than doubled in the mountains. The construction of roads, from the earliest pioneer days to the present, has attempted to alleviate the burden of travel in the mountain counties of Kentucky.
One such road in Letcher County was constructed long before the county was formed in 1842. The Scuttle Hole Gap Road was built by early settlers in the valleys between forks of the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers as a way to travel over Pine Mountain. Construction of this road allowed early mountain settlers to get to mountain towns, often in neighboring Virginia, in order to market their crops and goods and to purchase needed household items they could not manufacture on their own, including salt and sugar.
The road ran approximately seven miles, north and south, and took advantage of a natural pass through Pine Mountain caused by a mountain stream (Scuttle Hole Branch). The trail, and then road, was enhanced by manual labor. Travel on the road was hazardous, especially when rain and heavy snow washed out the roadway.
Mountain roads like the Scuttle Hole Gap Road helped alleviate some of the isolation caused by the region’s high ridges and deep valleys. These roads allowed early settlers access to items and information that helped lessen the difficulties the mountains made on their lives.