Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Old Harding Pike

Marker ID:  
Location: on Old Harding Pike 0.1 miles north of Morton Mill Rd, Nashville, TN
County: Davidson
Coordinates: N 36° 3.533    W 086° 56.7
  36.05888333    -86.945
Waymark: None


Old Harding Pike

When Lewis DeMoss first settled less than a mile here around 1800, there was an old north-south trail across this river bottom, which is still known by many as DeMoss Bottom. It was one of several approaches to the northern end of what in the 1700s was called the Chickisaw Trace and, by the early 1800s, was called the Natchez Trace.

The route became a passable dirt wagon road by 1810. It was a direct route to Nashville. From Cockrill Spring, which is located in present day Centennial Park, it led up the valley of Richland Creek, climbed what would later be known as Nine Mile Hill and descended along Flat Creek to cross the Big Harpeth just upstream from DeMoss's mill. By 1814 the road extended all the way to Centerville.

In 1843, DeMoss and other Harpeth River valley settlers successfully petitioned the Tennessee General Assembly for a "Charter of Incorporation for the Richland Turnpike Company." This macadamized road was completed in 1849 at a cost $35,000 which was to be recovered, along with a return to stockholders, by collected tolls from its users.

William Giles Harding, owner of Belle Meade plantation, was a principal stockholder in the Richland Turnpike Company. By the Civil War, the road was generally known as Harding Pike.

The Richland Turnpike crossed the Harpeth here on a new bridge and continued south .75 miles to a tollgate. The old tollhouse still standing as late as 1971, housed the gatekeeper who collected tolls and raised or turned the gate, which was a pole or pike. Passing through Pasquotank, the new improved road crossed Backbone Ridge and ended at the new Providence Church in the South Harpeth Valley.

The Beautifully crafted white church building just across the river here was a key part of what was once a close-knit rural community. It was completed and dedicated 1912 on land donated by J.F. and Anna Joslin Thompson for the construction of a new Methodist church.

By 1926, the old Harding Pike had been repaved from the South Harpeth at Linton to the present-day junction of U.S. 70 and Old Harding Road. The re-routing of Highway 100 from Pasqup through Vaughns Gap to its present junction with U.S. 70 was completed in 1933 because of the weak, narrow bridge across the Harpeth and its flood-prone approach to DeMoss Bottom.

Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation