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  • Natchez Trace Parkway


    On our meandering way back home to New England after wintering in Florida in 2006-2007 with a little side trip out to Texas, we visited Natchez, MS, and then spent about 10 days wandering up the Natchez Trace Parkway.

    The Parkway winds its way 444 miles from Natchez, MS, up to just south of Nashville, TN. Two hundred years ago farmers and boatmen used the Mississippi River and its tributary to get food and goods southward. They sold everything, including the logs from their raft-boats and then trekked back north on foot. As transportation improved (steamboats, stagecoaches and railroads), the Trace quickly became obsolete. The Trace was not near these newer forms of movement, and thus its remains have survived in relatively good shape in many areas.

    busby2 There are three free campgrounds along the Trace. They're strictly first-come/first-served. We spent one night at Jeff Busby Park, located about 9 miles south of Eupora, MS. Later in the trip, we stopped at Merewether Lewis Campground, 70 miles south of Nashville. There are plenty of other camping choices along the way as well; we stopped at Natchez SP just outside Natchez, LeFleur's Bluff SP near Jackson and Piney Grove COE Park near Booneville, MS.
    Emerald Mound is the largest of the several Indian mounds along the Trace and is the second-largest Native American ceremonial mound in the United States.  It measures 770 feet by 435 feet at the base and is 35 feet in height. There are two smaller mounds that were built atop the main mound. Emerald Mound is near the south end of the Parkway at Milepost 10.3. win0607-28 
    win0607-29   Dogwoods were very plentiful along the entire length of the Parkway. Although there were also some pink dogwoods here and there, the white variety by far was predominant.

    The Colonel James Drane House, built in 1846, is located at French Camp Historic District at Milepost 180.7. It was moved to its current location in 1981, where visitors can get a glimpse of life in an earlier time.

    The Huffman Cabin Gift Shop, the French Camp Log House Museum, LeFlore Carriage House, Black Smith Shop, Welcome Center and Bread Bakery, as well as a B&B with 4 cabins are all part of the French Camp complex. 
    win0607-31   In a number of places, one can still find sections of the original Trace, well-worn into the earth. One can only imagine the vast numbers of footsteps of folks trekking homeward that it took to wear down the path so.
     Liz enjoyed the dogwood blossoms.  win0607-32
     win0607-27a A waterfall along the trace. One of the pleasures of a slow "poke" along the Trace is being able to stop here and there to explore little spots such as this.
     At Milepost 407.7 is the Gordon House (1818). John Gordon operated a ferry on the Duck River about a quarter-mile south of here. John Gordon also served with General Andrew Jackson and was away from home a lot; his wife oversaw the construction of the house. His ferry operated for over 90 years until a bridge was built in 1896.  win0607-32a



    The John Coffee Memorial Bridge over Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River at Milepost 328. The bridge was named for Gen John Coffee, who served with Gen Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

       Park rangers are pretty strict about enforcing the 50-MPH speed limit and with commercial traffic prohibited, the drive is very relaxing.

    There are no fees whatsoever in using the Parkway, including the NPS campgrounds along the route.