We left New Orleans anxious to explore a part of the country we had not visited, the Mississippi River Delta. Our explorations started in Natchez MS.We set up camp about 20 minutes outside of town at Natchez State Park.
The location put us close to the Natchez Trace, Mississippian Mounds and Vicksburg.
The Natchez Trace is 450 mile plus trail system that connects the bluffs of the Mississippi River to the hills of Tennessee. These trails have been in use for thousands of years, first by Native Americans and later by European settlers. You can still walk on parts of the original Trace and add your footprints to thousands that previously walked the paths.In 1938 a parkway was constructed to commemorate the the original Trace. Now instead of walking you can drive the 444 miles from Southwest Mississippi to Tennessee. The Parkway allows for easy access to a number of ancient mound sites. These mounds where constructed as sacred places by the ancestors of the modern day Natchez, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. We visited the Emerald Mound (the second largest of the Mississippian mounds north of Mexico).It’s an impressive structure constructed by hand starting in AD 1350. The view from the top where the tribe’s leader would have built his house.
We traveled the Trace up toward Vicksburg and visited a number of historic sites along the way.
Mount Locust Inn and Plantation is one of the oldest structures in the area. It was built in 1780. As traffic on the Trace increased with the influx of settlers, the owners started to feed and house travelers creating one of the few inns on the Trace. The slave cemetery was a stark reminder of how this country was built.
The Mississippi River was of vital importance to both the North and the South. The Union needed to control the river to allow troops and supplies to pass into the South. The Confederates also needed the river for supplies and recruits. By late summer of 1862 only Vicksburg and Port Hudson LA blocked Union control of the Mississippi. After fierce fighting and a siege of 46 days the Union prevailed. Close to 20,000 died during the battle and siege. Touring the the park will take between three and five hours. We arrived late in the day and really just got a quick overview. Battery De GolyerThe Park has over 1,000 monuments commemorating state battalions and officers who participated in the battle. This is the Illinois memorial.
Also on display was the resurrected remains of the Union ironclad gunboat Cairo. The boat was sunk in 1862 with an electrically detonated torpedo. We toured a Confederate ironclad in Kinston NC which made for an interesting comparison.
On the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River sits the town of Natchez. Before the Civil War the area was home to more millionaires then any other place in the US. That wealth was generated by the thriving cotton plantations. Many of these planters were investors from the North who came to Natchez to make their fortunes. Instead of living on the plantations they used slave labor to build homes near the river.
We enjoyed walking the grounds of these antebellum homes and admiring the gardens.
This home was built on the bluff after the Civil War and was one of our favorites.
We enjoyed wandering and reading the many historical markers explaining the towns long history.
As always we like to checkout the local flavor of wherever we find ourselves. Steampunk Coffee served up excellent coffee and conversation. Highly recommend. Sorry no photos. It was across the street from the local brewery where our conversations continued. Highway 61 continues up the backbone of Mississippi and we’re on it.