Natchez, Mississippi & The Trace
When we left Branson, our little gang we had traveled with all went our separate ways. It was sad, but all good things must come to an end. But, if we had to sit somewhere by ourselves and miss our friends, at least we chose a beautiful place for the night! This was the view outside of our windows at Lake Chicot State Park, which is Arkansas's largest natural lake.
Not too shabby, huh? The people that we dealt with at this park too, were among the nicest we’ve met anywhere. Great place!
For years, I have wanted to drive the Natchez Trace. After searching maps, I realized that we would have to go way out of our way to drive very much of this 444-mile roadway, so then I decided that if we could just stay a night in the town of Natchez, I could visit the Visitor’s Center there and then plan the drive for some other time. Well, we ended up staying three nights there and I still look forward to the return!! We stayed at the state park there in Natchez, and the drive into it was beautiful!
After we got all set up in camp, we headed into town. I had no idea just how much history there was in Natchez. I mean, who knew that the first women’s college in America was chartered here on February 17, 1819? There isn’t much left to look at, but still very interesting information!
So many of the houses in this town continually had me saying “Wow!” It gets too difficult to look up all the names of these and all the details that go with them. That’s what gets me so behind on my blogs! LOL! Anyway, I thought I’d just share some of the photos by themselves instead. Hope you enjoy them!
And those are just some of the buildings that we saw the first afternoon we were in town! Amazing! We were literally driving all around and I just kept jumping out of the truck to take this picture and that picture until it became too dark for good photos!
So, the next morning we headed out to check out part of the Natchez Trace. I have wanted to check it out ever since reading about quite a few years ago. It’s a modern road today, but it first began as an animal trail. It later became an Indian footpath that linked tribes in a large region between what is today Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. There are still come places where you can see parts of the original Trace. It’s pretty cool to think of all the feet over time that have traveled along the path.
While driving along the Trace, there are many stops along it where you can take a break and read about it’s history and such. One such stop was at Mount Locust. It remains as the only one of more than 50 inns that existed between 1785 and 1830 along the 500 mile Old Trace.
Travel along the Old Trace hit it’s peak around 1810 when as the US was growing west, men would travel down the Mississippi River in the late 18th & early 19th centuries and would sell their wares, and took what money they could get for the lumber in their boats. The river’s swift waters made traveling upriver nearly impossible so the men would walk back home northward on the Trace. They would stay at the Inns along the way. Archeologists believe that 12 to 16 slave cabins once stood on the property, with four to five people occupying each dwelling. On the west side of the property, a cemetery holds the remains of 43 enslaved workers. A single headstone marks the area. We weren’t able to meet him, but apparently one of the Interpretive Rangers is a member of the family who built and lived here for so many years. Talk about having a connection to where you work! It’s amazing the contrast when you compare the above with what the family cemetery looks like. We’ve come so far away from the days of slavery that, I admit, I sometimes forget how different they were treated. Visiting the Natchez area really reminded me though.
In the 1790s new settlers were attracted to this area by the rich soil and many springs. They cleared the land, built homes, and in 1837. built an impressive brick church that still stands today, The town had been a station for a circuit-riding preacher who stopped by only once or twice a month.
We continued our drive up to Ross Barnett Reservoir where we turned back around. In all, we traveled about 105 out of the 444 total miles of the Natchez Trace. We’re hoping to return at some other time to travel the whole Trace and take advantage of the three free campgrounds along it’s route.
One of the last places we visited was the home of William Johnson, a freed person of color. He was a barber, entrepreneur, and even a slave owner himself. I don’t ever remember learning about a previous slave later owning his own after being freed. It was very interesting!
I do apologize for such a long post and for including so many photos, but it’s really hard to describe this area without all of it. And believe it or not, I’ve only touched the surface of what we saw and learned!
Hope you enjoyed it. Happy Trails!