The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, that Philip Gentzler and his family traveled down, was the principal highway of the colonial back country. It had been an Indian Worrior's Path until 1744 when the English acquired the use of it by treaty. Learning of cheaper lands southward in Maryland and Virginia, the Germans and Scotch-Irish began venturing down the path. Parke Rouse, in his 1973 book "The Great Road", wrote, "let by a few exploreers and land speculators, the Germans and Scotch-Irish migrations were to continue for nearly a century." By the fall of 1766, the Great Road stretched from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia. It went through Lancaster, York, and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, through Hagerstown, Maryland and into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
At Big Lick, later to become Roanoke, Virginia, pioneers could take the Wilderness Road west through the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Tennessee, or they could continue south on the Great Wagon Road into North Carolina. The dirt road went through Salisbury and Charlotte and continued south to Chester adn Newberry, South Carolina, before it reached Augusta. The road was most developed in southern Pennsylvania where great taverns and inns, serving German delicacies such as saurbraten, schmorbraten, apfelklose, and spanferkel, dotted the road.
By the time Philip Gentzler migration, most of the road had been cleared to accommodate horse-drawn vehicles. County courts employed local farmers to keep up segments of the road, but the path generally stayed in a poor condition. Eigthteen miles of progress was a good days work. Expert German wagon makers, located near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were famous for their "Conestoga Wagons," and Philip, no doubt, use one on this 450 mile journey. The vehicles were built to such a size that five or six horses, harnessed in pairs, were required to pull them. To lighten the load, people were expected to walk alongside or behind the wagon. "A family cow, an ox, a pig or two were sometimes tethered to such a wagon. Chickens and other fowl were transported in pens suspended from the tailgate." Philip and his family passed farm after farm, occasionally coming across forts, taverns, and villages. One of their preoccuping thoughts, on this long journey, had to have been the knowledge that they would, in all likelihood, never see the family and friends that they had left behind in York, Pennsylvania.