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
Mount Locust Plantation
Mangum Mound Indian Site
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
Ratliff Ferry (1860)
Myrick Creek Beaver Dam
Kosciusko Information Center
Jeff Busy Park
Old Natchez Trace
Bynum Indian Mounds
Chickasaw Council House
Black Belt Overlook
Old Trace Drive
Meriwether Lewis Park
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.