Born in Virginia, Thomas Walker studied medicine and became a doctor but also speculated in land. He joined the Loyal Land Company, organized and led the first expedition through the gap in the mountains, which he named Cumberland Gap in 1750. His expedition explored thousands of acres of land in the western wilderness of Kentucky decades before Lewis & Clark. Near the river, which he named the Cumberland, Walker built a cabin. A replica now stands on part of the land claimed by Dr. Walker. He returned to his Virginia home shortly thereafter, but left a journal documenting the hardships and discoveries of his travels.
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