A trace is a path or trail, usually of trampled vegetation, inadvertently left by animals or human beings as they travel from one place to another. In early historic times, numerous traces were made by animals such as bears or migrating bison (see Buffalo Traces).

Many of our modern highways follow early bison traces. There were also trails or traces left intentionally by pioneers and explorers such as Daniel Boone, who marked his Wilderness Road by notching trees along the way.

Washington Trace in Campbell, Bracken, and Mason counties is a road that roughly follows a trail left by early settlers traveling from Northern Kentucky toward the town of Washington in Mason Co., just outside Maysville. In the early days, the trace evidently began where today’s Four Mile Rd. and Fender Rd. intersect in Campbell Co. From there it went out Fender Rd. to Four and Twelve Mile Rd., then to Twelve Mile Rd., and then to today’s Washington Trace. The trace then meandered southeast
through the towns of Carthage and Flagg Springs, where it began to follow present-day Ky. Rt. 10. It went through the towns of Peach Grove, Brooksville, Powersville, and Germantown, and when it neared Maysville, it followed for several miles present-day U.S. 68, going toward Blue Licks. The trace ended at Simon Kenton’s blockhouse near Washington.

Many noted Northern Kentucky people lived along the trace. William Kennedy and his son James built a log cabin at Flagg Springs in 1789, from which they surveyed much of northern and eastern Campbell Co. They were also buried near the trace. Elijah Herndon built a home for his family there in 1818, and the structure still stands today. His daughter Demarius Herndon White and her husband, Joseph Jasper White, raised their family at Carthage, on the trace. Demarius wrote an interesting diary from 1879 to 1883 about her everyday life there.

Early preacher and builder James Monroe Jolly built at least two churches along the trace and was the pastor of the one at Flagg Springs. Absolom Columbus Dicken lived most of his life near the trace and referred to it in his Civil War diary. The executed Confederate Civil War veteran William Francis Corbin lived along the trace and was buried on his farm beside this historic road. The land along Washington Trace today remains relatively undeveloped.

Wessling, Jack. Early History of Campbell County,
Kentucky. Alexandria, Ky., Privately published,
Jack Wessling