Friday, September 11, 2009

Natchez Trace Parkway

When I left Nashville, I headed south on the Natchez Trace Parkway, a National Park, 450 miles long and sometimes not much wider than the road. It portrays the historical significance of those people who traveled down the Mississippi River with their goods, and the path they used to return home again. Starting in the late 1700s and going until about 1820, the trace was the primary road between Natchez, MS, and Nashville. Even the federal government declared it a postal highway during this time. Although I had traveled parts of the trace before, I had never set foot on the section between Nashville and Tupelo, MS.

The bridge at about mile 6 or so. It is considered a unique architectural design using the strength of the arch.

The Gordon House was a trading post and ferry crossing over the Duck River. Gordon opened his trading post and ferry in 1802, but this house was built in 1817. He was an Indian fighter and friend of Andrew Jackson and was gone much of the time, leaving his wife to operate and run the place.

We stopped at Jackson Falls and along the 900 foot steep paved path to the falls, I spotted this little water seepage running over the rocks. Thought it was a pretty spot.

Here is Jackson Falls, named after Andrew Jackson. Originally part of the Jackson Branch, floods over the years eroded away the bluffs, causing the creek to reroute itself, creating these falls which now flow down to the Duck River.

Stands or Inns were located approximately every 50 miles or so, about one days travel. This was through Indian territory. The Indians conceded to allow these Inns as long as an Indian was running the place. Here the widow Cranfield is shown with her second husband, a Chickasaw Indian who spoke little English. Whenever travelers arrived and approached him, he would point to her and say "She Boss". Eventually this stand became known as the Sheboss Inn. Only a few buildings from this time period are still standing, so unfortunately mostly what you get are billboards with the stories and some pictures.

Also along the trace are several stops with mounds. These Indian mounds are known to be as old 2000 B.C. in some cases. Atop these mounds the chief would build his home or they would build their ceremonial huts. Excavations have provided many artifacts which are on display at the visitor centers along the trace.

A lock on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. A canal cut between the Tennessee River and the TomBigbee River saves hundreds of miles for those commercial transports heading towards the gulf from up north.

Here is a picture showing the waterway.
Mount Locust, the oldest surviving building along the trace and one of the oldest in MS. It was an Inn as well as the home of a plantation owner along the trace. Guest could get a meal inside the home, but they slept outside, probably in another building which is no longer standing.

Spanish Moss hangs off the trees. It is an air plant and so it doesn't destroy the trees themselves.

Grinders Inn is where Meriweather Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, died in 1909 at the age of 35.

Colbert's Stand and Ferry Crossing on the banks of the Tennessee River. Although nothing is left here you can see the sight of where Andrew Jackson paid Colbert $75,000 to ferry his troops across the river. Quite a large sum back in those days.

There is much more along the trace that I did not document this time, but I would highly recommend the trip if you are ever in the area. Additional places to stop would be French Camp, MS, home of French Camp Academy, founded in 1885 and still operating, and Rocky Springs, once a thriving town, now only a church survives.


randy said...

Thanks for sharing your trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace and all that lies along its path are truly wonderful. For those wanting to discover more about the parkway check out

Barbara and Ron said...

Good grief - $75,000! Mr. Colbert could retire with that.