After filling our bellies in the city of Natchez we drove approximately 2.5 miles east on Liberty Rd. until we reached the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The parkway is a 444 mile, windy, two lane, scenic drive that follows the path of the historic travel corridor called the “Old Natchez Trace” through the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
What once started as an ancient buffalo path, this corridor has been used for thousands of years by American Indians, European settlers, Kaintuck boatman, and many others. A long history of the connection between people and the lands they inhabit can be traced by following the trail and exploring it’s many ancestral Indian mounds, historic structures and other points of interest.
After 1820 when steamboats became a better alternative than traveling by foot up the Mississippi river, the trace began to disappear. Thanks largely to the efforts of Mrs. Egbert Jones and Mrs. Ferriday Burns, both members of the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, these historic places have been reclaimed and preserved.
Following their grassroots effort, which started in 1905, many joined their call. In 1938 the resulting Natchez Trace Parkway received official designation by the National Park Service.
As one of America’s 150 national scenic byways it is visited by millions of travels and recreational users a year. With over 52,000 acres used for hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping it remains one of the most visited National Park Units in the United States. Not to mention that it is one incredibly beautiful drive.
We hope you join us from week to week as we visit some of the numerous historical and culturally significant sites that we explored along the way; including places like the second largest Indian mound in the United States and the final resting place of Meriwether Lewis. We will also walk a few short trails through cypress swamps, view waterfalls, and walk in the footsteps of bygone travels along a portion of the original footrail used by so many that you’d think it had been carved by the eroding forces of water.
The parkway itself continues to increase in popularity with bicyclists from all over the world and for this reason we advise that you become familiar with the rules of the road before venturing out by automobile and please be ever vigilant when rounding the many blind corners as you will most definitely be sharing the road with bicycles. With such beautiful scenery it is easy to become distracted which increases the probability of a traffic accident or even fatality.
That said, we hope to bring attention back to the significance of this scenic drive, not just as the recreational mecca it has become, but as a place where we can be reminded of our connection to the land, our impact on it, and as way to reflect on how these practices have changed over many centuries and continue to change.
So please join us next week as we make our first stop heading north at the site of the Mississippi’s first institute of higher learning for women.
Until then…take care and enjoy the journey.
Natchez Trace Parkway Website (800) 305-7417
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