The Natchez Trace: A Path to the Past…

By Junior Johnson

We have a wealth of beauty and history in Natchitoches Parish that’s sometimes taken for granted, but never unappreciated.

I made a two-day trip almost 15 years ago on the Natchez Trace Parkway (NTP).

After the American Revolution the U.S. gained lands west of the Appalachian Mountains as far as the Mississippi River.

By the late 1700s boatmen were delivering goods via the Mississippi River to Natchez and New Orleans. With permission from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations their return trip was over land along the foothills later known as the Natchez Trace.

In 1801 the Natchez Trace was designated as a postal route between Nashville and Natchez. Post Riders carried the mail.  The National Park Service adopted the image of a Post Rider as the official symbol for the NTP.

Running 450 miles through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, it was created May 19, 1938. From Natchez, Miss. it follows the route taken by boatmen who delivered their goods down river from Nashville in the Spring and walked back home during the Summer and Fall.

The Trace begins in Franklin, Tenn. and ends just North of Natchez, Miss.

I entered the Trace Friday, Oct. 21, 2001 at 9 a.m., visiting the following sites:

Emerald Mound – Burial grounds

Loess Bluff

Mount Locust Plantation

Sunken Trace

Mangum Mound Indian Site

Rocky Springs

This southern portion of the Trace served as the main travel between Natchez and Jackson until the Civil War. The Civil War, yellow fever, destructive crop insects, and poor land management brought an end to this once prosperous settlement. Today only the Church and Cemetery remain, along with several abandoned cisterns.

Rocky Springs Methodist Church

Dean’s Stand

Reservoir Overlook

Boyd Site

Ratliff Ferry (1860)

Myrick Creek Beaver Dam

Kosciusko Information Center

Coles Creek

Bethel Mission

French Camp

Jeff Busy Park

Old Natchez Trace

Old Trace

Bynum Indian Mounds

Chickasaw Council House

Black Belt Overlook

Colbert’a Ferry

Rock Springs

Sunken Trace

Glenrock Branch

Old Trace Drive

Napier Mine

Metal Ford

Meriwether Lewis Park

Phosphate Mine

Tobacco Farm

Gordon House

Water Valley Tennessee Overlook

My journey ended Saturday, Oct. 26, 2001 at 6 p.m.  While traveling the Trace I could almost feel the ghosts of those brave men and women, who so many years ago endured its hardships to forge a life for their families, and the future of this great Country.

It’s difficult to imagine the hardships and sorrow buried along the almost 500 miles of the Trace when one sees the beauty that’s here today.  I’m thankful to the many brave men and women who came before me to help forge the greatest Nation in the World.

6 thoughts on “The Natchez Trace: A Path to the Past…

  1. Several generations of my family were born in towns and counties along the Natchez Trace, Kosciusko, Attala County, Adams County, and Holmes County, to be exact. I’ve ridden on the Trace and loved it, all of my life! Serenely peaceful…

  2. I just came back from here. Had my Christmas in Tupelo and New Years Eve on the Trace. I enjoyed the mounds and unknown soldiers.

  3. Which dates are you referring to Mrs. Mary? It was officially called Natchez Trace in 1938 and in 1801 the mail service began..

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