The Natchez Trace: A Fascinating Place of Culture and History

Most anyone that’s spent a little time reading about or cruising around the Natchez Trace Parkway knows that the entire stretch from Natchez to Nashville is full of history and beautiful sights to see. But what makes that history unique? Why do folks appreciate this National Scenic Byway as much as they do? Well, a lot of that has to do with the special things that make all 444 miles of the Trace unique from other places – particularly, the culture.

Monument at Meriwether Lewis Gravesite
Monument at Meriwether Lewis Gravesite

The Natchez Trace Parkway is full of cultural heritage, from the history of Native Americans and settlers, to musical legends, to local arts and eccentricities, you can find it! Let’s learn more.

Pharr Mounds at Milepost 286.7
Pharr Mounds at Milepost 286.7

History buffs are sure to learn and experience to their hearts’ content no matter where they visit. One of the oldest human marks on the trail are the incredible mounds by Native Americans that settled the area around 12,000 years ago. After creating an impressive network of settlements, native populations began building these huge burial mounds — Pharr Mounds.

Another fascinating historic spot is The Sunken Trace. Thousands of years ago, the Old Trace was a popular way for boatmen, bandits, and soldiers to regularly travel. By steps of man, horse, and buggy overtime, today The Sunken Trace is a deeply eroded trail created by Trace travelers that literally walked before you. A must-see attraction!

Mount Locust at Milepost 15.5
Mount Locust at Milepost 15.5

Early pioneer architecture is on display along the Parkway, especially at Mount Locust, a homestead-turned-inn built in 1780. Mount Locust has been restored to its 1800s appearance and is one of the oldest structures still standing in an area known for historic homes. You can check out the full story from NPS here.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame
The Alabama Music Hall of Fame

The musical culture of the Trace was in its early stages back then, but it sure did grow! Nowadays, it is vibrant, diverse, and audible to every ear willing to listen. Between Nashville, Tennessee, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace winds right through the middle of this area known for spawning some of the best in American music. You’ll find the birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi as well as the birthplace of the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy, in Florence, Alabama. And you just can’t miss the northern terminus of the Parkway showcasing the world-famous music city of Nashville, Tennessee.

Ivy Green, Childhood Home of Helen Keller
Ivy Green, Childhood Home of Helen Keller

If you’re looking for literature, take short side-trips from the Trace to visit the home places of Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, John Grisham, Helen Keller, and more. Visual arts lovers should check out the neat little town of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, where artists and antiques populate the community with a pleasant cocktail of modern artistic expression and old-time charm. And when your stomach gets to rumbling, we all know the greatest way to experience culture is through a meal shared with friends and family. Whether it’s fine dining on the docket or a down home meal fit for small-town king, the Natchez Trace is sure to please!

The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN
The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN

There’s no doubt to be had that the Natchez Trace Parkway is an incredible place, made especially unique by the diverse and people who have called it home – and even those who love to pay a visit. If a little culture is something you can get excited about, you’ll be thrilled to see what you can find on the Trace. Start planning your trip today!

Franklin, TN's Main Street Festival is a Must Each April
Franklin, TN’s Main Street Festival

Download our Visitor’s Guide for even more points of interest, historical anecdotes, and curiosities to make your next trip one to remember. Join the conversation and stay up-to-date by following The Natchez Trace on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!