Commercial Vehicles and the Natchez Trace Parkway

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Commercial Vehicles and the Natchez Trace Parkway

Release Date: Immediate 

Contact: Prashant Lotwala, Chief Ranger, prashant_lotwala@nps.gov, 662-680-4013 

 

TUPELO, MS – On November 18, 2020, early in the morning, law enforcement Park Ranger Tim McElwain was conducting traffic enforcement patrol when he stopped four semi-trucks on the Parkway near milepost 250 and cited all four drivers. Later in the afternoon, Ranger McElwain stopped two additional semi-trucks, and again both drivers were cited. 

Supervisory Park Ranger John Hearne stated, “Despite increasing signage and enforcement, commercial vehicles on the Parkway remain a recurring problem. The Parkway is not wide enough for large trucks and the roadbed was never build for their weight. The poor condition of the Parkway is caused, in part, by overweight vehicles.” 

“We are concerned about commercial vehicles being operated on the Parkway,” said Chief Ranger Prashant Lotwala. “Natchez Trace Parkway is a unit of the National Park Service and should be utilized for outdoor recreational activities and for scenic drives. The Parkway should not be used by commercial vehicles including semi-trucks.” Rangers remind the public that commercial vehicles operating on the Parkway should be reported to the Communication Center by calling 1-800-300-PARK(7275). 

www.nps.gov 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 422 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. 

Storm Damage Cleanup to Begin at Cypress Swamp and River Bend

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Storm Damage Cleanup to Begin at Cypress Swamp and River Bend

RIDGELAND, MS– The Natchez Trace Parkway will begin storm damage cleanup in the vicinity of Milepost 114 – Milepost 124 this week. Construction crews will be removing storm damaged timber from the perimeter of the motor road, Cypress Swamp, Riverbend, and sections of the National Scenic Trail. Motorists should use caution and watch out for work crews when traveling along this section of the Natchez Trace Parkway. 

The National Park Service will assess Cypress Swamp and Riverbend pullovers to determine the extent of the damage upon removal of the downed timber. “The straight-line winds that moved through the area earlier this year had a major impact on our park’s resources. We’re excited to get the area cleaned up, so the Parkway can move forward with more in-depth assessments of the damage to the area,” stated Chief of Maintenance, Greg Smith. Once crews have completed the initial cleanup of the area, the work will require heavier equipment. The motor road will be closed due to unsafe conditions within the roadway, and a detour will be put in place. Information about the detour and closure will be provided when the heavy equipment operation begins and will remain in effect until the work is complete. For more information about this project and the Natchez Trace Parkway, call (800) 305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

Sections of Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail to Close for Maintenance

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Sections of Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail to Close for Maintenance

RIDGELAND, MS – Natchez Trace Parkway will close sections of the Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail near Ridgeland, MS starting November 1, 2020. The work will take place along three sections of trail beginning near the Highland Colony Parkway trail crossing and ending south of the Ross Barnett Reservoir Overlook (Milepost 100.8- Milepost 105.3).  

Over approximately two weeks sections of trail will be closed as the work progresses. The trail requires regular maintenance and repair work to maintain optimal conditions for visitor use. Signs and barricades will be placed at trail access points to mark the closures. All access to the closed portions of the trail is prohibited during this time. The trail west of Highland Colony Parkway will remain open. 

For more information about this project and the Natchez Trace Parkway, call (800) 305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

Natchez Trace Parkway is Increasing Access to Parkway Comfort Stations

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Natchez Trace Parkway is Increasing Access to Parkway Comfort Stations

TUPELO, MS – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Natchez Trace Parkwayis increasing access to the Parkway Comfort Stations. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the  COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis. 

Beginning October 19, 2020, Natchez Trace Parkway will reopen access to the following Comfort Stations:  

  • Rocky Springs, MS. Milepost 55 
  • Ridgeland Information Cabin, Jackson, MS.  Milepost 102 
  • Pharr Mounds, Marietta, MS.  Milepost 287 
  • Glenrock Branch, Waynesboro, TN.  Milepost 365 
  • Garrison Creek, Leipers Fork, TN.  Milepost 425 

All other outdoor spaces, including all roadways, trails, pullouts, and roadside exhibits along the Parkway remain accessible to the public. Visitors have access to maps and brochures at the Visitors Center located in Tupelo MS, at the Mount Locust Information Center, and online interaction through Facebook posts and emails.  

With public health in mind, the following facility remains closed: 

  • Meriwether Lewis Campground, located at Hohenwald TN
      

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Natchez Trace Parkway, our operational approach continues to be centered on examining each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public areas and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

A safe and enjoyable park experience begins at home. The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park’s website and social media for current conditions and travel tips. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases.We ask the public to be our partner in recreating responsibly, by following CDC and state and local guidance, social distancing, and wearing a face covering when social distance cannot be maintained.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on www.nps.gov/natr and Facebook @NatchezTraceParkwayNPS. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on http://www.nps.gov/coronavirus.  

www.nps.gov

Some Natchez Trace Parkway Sites to Close Due to Hurricane Delta

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Some Natchez Trace Parkway Sites to Close Due to Hurricane Delta

TUPELO, MS – In anticipation of heavy rains and strong winds from Hurricane Delta, some sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway will close this weekend. Today, October 9, Rocky Springs and Jeff Busby campgrounds will close by noon and Mount Locust will close at 3 PM. These locations will remain closed on Saturday and may re-open on Sunday depending upon an assessment of conditions.  Additionally, Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo, MS will be closed on Saturday, October 10 with plans to reopen Sunday, October 11. 

Travelers are advised to avoid using the Natchez Trace Parkway as Hurricane Delta hits the region due to the possibility of falling trees and other obstructions on the Parkway. Maintenance on the Parkway will not occur during dangerous storm conditions. Remember, cellular coverage is limited to non-existent on certain sections of the Parkway. 

Current weather information is available through your local radio and television stations.  For additional information and updates regarding the status of the Natchez Trace Parkway, visit www.nps.gov/natr, Facebook @NatchezTraceParkwayNPS, or call (662) 680-4027. In the event of a life threatening emergency on the Natchez Trace Parkway, call (800) 300-PARK(7275) or 911. 

www.nps.gov

Natchez Trace Parkway Featured in “5 Best Road Trips in the US”

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Natchez Trace Parkway Featured in “5 Best Road Trips in the US”

Read the feature from GearJunkie here.

Travel | Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway

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Travel | Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway

Find article link here.

September 29, 2020

By Debi Lander
mail@floridanewsline.com

American Indians, Ohio Valley riverboat traders, European settlers, soldiers, slaves, and future presidents trod the Natchez Trace, one of America’s oldest trails. It took about 35 days by foot, 25 days on horseback. Later widened for wagons, the route was eventually abandoned in favor of steamboat transit. Fortunately, the pathway was restored and today the National Park Service maintains the 444-mile renovated highway running through three states from Nashville to Natchez. The two-lane road posts a maximum speed limit of 50 mph. Attempt the drive in one day, and you’ll spend more than 10 hours behind the wheel.  

A better way to enjoy this part of the South is to break the trip up, making it like a relaxing Sunday drive on a rural country road. Stop to explore the tree-lined trails, campgrounds, historical markers, and bodies of water for hiking, biking, fishing, and even horseback riding. Or drive segments of the road veering off to discover the many attractions in small and bigger cities. My suggestions follow:

Nashville makes a great starting point. Take in a performance at the Grand Ole Opry and tour the Country Music Hall of Fame. Marvel at Nashville’s full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Greece, reminding us that the city was dubbed “Athens of the South.” 

Next morning, head to the Trace’s entrance with a full tank of gas and some snacks. The scenic road offers no gas stations, convenience stores, or hotels; however, you’ll find public restrooms and mile markers.

About an hour down the road, stop by the Meriwether Lewis Monument. Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame died under mysterious circumstances at Grinder’s stand. His grave marker features a cut off column signifying a life cut short, at just 35 years. 

Music lovers should consider visiting Muscle Shoals, about 15 minutes off the road. FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals Sound, and other recording studios made the Alabama city the “Hit Recording Capital of the World” in the 1960s.

On the way to Tupelo, stop, and walk along the footpath of the Old Trace imagining how vulnerable travelers felt over 200 years ago. Pause for reflection when you come to 13 Confederate graves with stone markers.

The Parkway Headquarters and Visitor Center provides a must-see educational opportunity. Don’t miss the introductory film and displays covering the trail’s 10,000-year history. 

Tupelo celebrates its hometown hero Elvis at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum. The Presley house contains just two rooms. The museum offers more about Elvis’ early years, and the grounds include some fantastic statues.

State capitol buildings are always worth a visit and Jackson, Mississippi’s capital, lies just 10 miles off the Trace. Follow a self-tour using the visitor brochure as your guide and discover grandeur in the domed building. Stay and tour two eye-opening museums in one: the hands-on Mississippi History Museum and the interactive Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The two attractions jointly cover 200,000 square feet and include 22,000 artifacts.  

Port Gibson, a town Sherman called “too pretty to burn,” and the Windsor Ruins put you smack in kudzu covered territory. The ruins are all that remain of what was once a palatial mansion, but they make a haunting sight, a favorite of photographers.  

National Park Ranger Jane Farmer, Chief of Interpretation, says, “Emerald Mound is the must-see along the Parkway. It’s the second-largest Indian mound in the U.S.”

Reaching Natchez provides elegance and charm. Historic homes showcase antebellum splendor with costumed, knowledgeable guides. Natchez became the richest town per capita in the U.S. from about 1820 – 1860.

Don’t leave until you’ve gone down to Natchez Under-the-Hill, a row of Mississippi riverfront restaurants and shops far tamer than the brothels, taverns and gambling halls that stood there 200 years ago. 

Whether you’re a National Park enthusiast, history buff, or just enjoy driving, the Natchez Trace Parkway delivers memorable miles.

Visit the National Park website, www.nps.gov/natr for more information.

Visit www.bylandersea.com to read more of local travel writer Debi Lander’s stories and travel tips.

Natchez Trace Parkway Car Free Bicycling Event Cancelled

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Natchez Trace Parkway Car Free Bicycling Event Cancelled

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TN – The Natchez Trace Parkway will not hold the biannual “Car Free Parkway Experience” day for bicyclists and pedestrians in September 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The event is usually held in May and on the last Saturday of September between mile markers 429 and 440 in Tennessee.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount,” stated Superintendent Mary Risser. “Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee continue to be in the top 10 “hot spot” states.  We examine and monitor each operation to ensure that it complies with current public health guidance. We work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public safety.”

A safe and enjoyable park experience begins at home. The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park’s website and social media for current conditions and travel tips. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases.We ask the public to be our partner in recreating responsibly, by following CDC and state and local guidance, social distancing, and wearing a face covering when social distance cannot be maintained.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website www.nps.gov/natr and on Facebook @NatchezTraceParkwayNPS. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.   

www.nps.gov

Natchez Trace Parkway Reopens Closed Section of Road Near Ridgeland, MS

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Natchez Trace Parkway Reopens Closed Section of Road Near Ridgeland, MS

RIDGELAND, MS: The previously closed section of the Natchez Trace Parkway motor road has been re-opened to traffic until further notice. The section of parkway from US 49 (mile marker 93.1) to I-55 (mile marker 100.7) near Ridgeland, Mississippi was previously closed due to hazardous road conditions. Those conditions have been mitigated as a result of construction repairs made adjacent to the roadway.

Minor construction work is still required near mile marker 93.9. Pending dry weather, this work will begin in the upcoming weeks and will include one-lane closures. Drivers should use caution when driving in work zones and adhere to construction signs and/or flaggers in the area.

For more information about the Parkway, please call (800) 305-7417.

www.nps.gov

The Natchez Trace Parkway Presents Traditional Music by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association

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The Natchez Trace Parkway Presents Traditional Music by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association

TUPELO, MS – The North Mississippi Dulcimer Association will present a special program of dulcimer music from 10 am to noon on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the Parkway Visitor Center located at milepost 266 near Tupelo, Mississippi.

The North Mississippi Dulcimer Association teaches dulcimer history, tradition, craftsmanship, and music by sharing its knowledge and talents. The Appalachian mountain dulcimer is the first instrument developed in the United States. Dating back to the early 1800s, the dulcimer is an instrument whose very name means “sweet sound.” The National Park Service and the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association invite everyone to listen to the soft sweet sounds of the dulcimer and learn about its extensive history.

This program is free.  For additional information, call 1-800-305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

The National Park Service Announces the Finding of No Significant Impact for Proposed Easement Improvements to US Highway 61 at Port Gibson, Mississippi

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The National Park Service Announces the Finding of No Significant Impact for Proposed Easement Improvements to US Highway 61 at Port Gibson, Mississippi

TUPELO, MS:  The National Park Service (NPS) announces the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document is now available at www.nps.gov/natr. The FONSI grants a highway easement deed to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (Project N. 101819) for the proposed US 61 improvements at Port Gibson, Mississippi, which includes the construction of a highway bypass across the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The FONSI is also available on the NPS’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at parkplanning.nps.gov. Under “Choose a Park,” click on “Natchez Trace Parkway” and follow the link to “US 61 Improvements at Port Gibson, Mississippi.”

For more information about the Natchez Trace Parkway, visit www.nps.gov/natr.

www.nps.gov

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

Pioneer Day at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center

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Pioneer Day at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center

TUPELO, MS – The Tombigbee Pioneer Group will demonstrate pioneer era crafts and skills at the Parkway Visitor Center, from 10 am until 3 pm on Saturday, February 22, 2020. The demonstrations will show the challenges faced and creative solutions developed by those pioneers who lived in the area from the 1700s to around 1840.

The public is invited to participate in pioneer lifestyle activities that often include crafting baskets, spinning, weaving, leather working, making cornhusk dolls, and other traditional craft demonstrations. Mountain dulcimer demonstrations are usually offered throughout the day. Children are invited to dress up in pioneer clothes and participate in craft activities.

This program is free to the public. The visitor center is located at milepost 266 on the Natchez Trace Parkway, near Tupelo, Mississippi. For additional information, please call (800) 305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

The Natchez Trace String Band to Perform at the Parkway Information Cabin

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The Natchez Trace String Band to Perform at the Parkway Information Cabin

RIDGELAND, MS – The Natchez Trace Parkway invites visitors to enjoy the talents and sounds of local musicians at the Parkway Information Cabin on February 15, 2020 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. The Natchez Trace String Band, a small group of local acoustic musicians, will fill the cabin with the sounds of traditional folk, country, and bluegrass music. Visitors are welcome to stop by for a few minutes or bring a chair and stay awhile.

This program is free of charge. The Parkway Information Cabin (milepost 102.4) is located approximately one mile north of I-55 at exit 105A, or just east of the intersection of Rice Road and Highway 51. For additional information, call (601) 856-7321.

 www.nps.gov

Natchez Trace Parkway Read with a Ranger Program: “Not a Buzz to Be Found”

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Natchez Trace Parkway Read with a Ranger Program: “Not a Buzz to Be Found”

TUPELO, MS – The Natchez Trace Parkway invites children and their families to a Read with a Ranger program on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 10 am in the Parkway Visitor Center. This month’s featured story is “Not a Buzz to Be Found: Insects in Winter.” Uncover where insects go in winter to keep warm.

Read with a Ranger is a 45-minute program that is most appropriate for ages six and under, but everyone is welcome.  Participants will listen to a story and join in a fun activity. To confirm the time and program scheduled each month, please visit at www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvisit/calendar.htm. This program is free to the public.

The visitor center is located at milepost 266 on the Natchez Trace Parkway near Tupelo, Mississippi. For additional information, call (800) 305-7417. 

America’s federal lands and waters are living classrooms. Make learning come alive by participating in Every Kid Outdoors. All current 4th graders and their families can visit national parks, monuments, seashores and more for free. Learn more at www.nps.gov/everykidoutdoors

www.nps.gov

The National Park Service Announces Availability of the Administrative Record File for the Meriwether Lewis Firing Range in Tennessee

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The National Park Service Announces Availability of the Administrative Record File for the Meriwether Lewis Firing Range in Tennessee

TUPELO, MS:  The National Park Service (NPS) announces the availability of the Administrative Record File for public review on the Meriwether Lewis Firing Range Site. The firing range is located on the north side of the Natchez Trace Parkway near Milepost 378, approximately 8 miles south of the Meriwether Lewis Monument and Campground, and has not been used since 2016. The site will be evaluated for potential presence of contaminants.

The Administrative Record includes documents that the NPS will use to select a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) response action if necessary. The Administrative Record File currently includes the Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection Report. The Administrative Record will be updated to include other documents considered in the selection of a cleanup action, if required, including the Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) report, comments submitted by interested persons, NPS responses to significant comments, and the EE/CA approval memorandum.

The Administrative Record File is available in digital format. To request a digital copy, please provide your email address or mailing address to:

Béla Varga
Acting Environmental Management Branch Chief
NPS Region 2 South Atlantic Gulf
1924 Building, 100 Alabama St. SW
Atlanta, GA  30303

(404) 507-5722
Bela_Varga@nps.gov

www.nps.gov

Update – Natchez Trace Parkway Road Closure Near Ridgeland, MS

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Update – Natchez Trace Parkway Road Closure Near Ridgeland, MS

HEADQUARTERS, MS: Natchez Trace Parkway officials closed a 7-mile stretch of road from milepost 93.1 to milepost 100.7 on October 31, 2019 to replace a culvert that reached is operational life span. Continuous rain throughout the southern district since October has delayed repairs.

The culvert was replaced the week of January 5, 2020 but work near the road is not complete. Rain has saturated the ground, which has not allowed contractors to accommodate the heavy equipment. The Parkway needs at least two weeks without rain for the ground to sufficiently dry enough to move the equipment in where it needs to be. Rain continues to be in the forecast for the foreseeable future. “Visitor and staff safety remains our top priority. We apologize for the inconvenience and request the public’s patience and understanding as we wait out the weather.” stated Acting Superintendent Laura Perdices.

For more information about the Natchez Trace Parkway, go to www.nps.gov/natr or call 1-800-305-7417.

www.nps.gov

The Natchez Trace Parkway Presents Traditional Music by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association

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The Natchez Trace Parkway Presents Traditional Music by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association

TUPELO, MS – A special program of dulcimer music will be provided by the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association from 10 am to noon on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at the Parkway Visitor Center located at milepost 266 near Tupelo, Mississippi.

The North Mississippi Dulcimer Association teaches dulcimer history, tradition, craftsmanship, and music by sharing its knowledge and talents. The Appalachian mountain dulcimer is the first instrument developed in the United States. Dating back to the early 1800s, the dulcimer is an instrument whose very name means “sweet sound.” The National Park Service and the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association invite everyone to listen to the soft sweet sounds of the dulcimer and learn about its extensive history.

This program is free.  For additional information, call 1-800-305-7417. 

www.nps.gov

Early Morning Traffic Safety Checkpoint

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Early Morning Traffic Safety Checkpoint

TUPELO, MS – Natchez Trace Parkway rangers conducted a traffic safety checkpoint just south of the City of Tupelo during the early peak commute hours on January 15, 2020. This checkpoint was designed to remove unlawfully operated vehicles, such as impaired or unlicensed drivers, from the Parkway during peak traffic.

“This checkpoint allowed us to focus on those most likely to die in motor vehicle collisions – our local drivers,” stated Acting District Ranger Jay Drinkwater. Driving without a valid license or a suspended license is a common element in fatal collisions along the Parkway. It is within the operational policies of the Parkway to tow vehicles that are operated without insurance. “We’ll give folks all the time they need to produce their proof of insurance; but if a vehicle isn’t insured it isn’t welcome on the Parkway,” Drinkwater continued.

Over 850 vehicles were screened in a 4-hour period that resulted in 4 arrests, 26 vehicles towed, and 34 tickets and 38 warnings issued. Of those arrested, two were for outstanding warrants, one was for possession of a controlled substance, and the fourth was a foreign national arrested for an immigration violation. “The ranger’s goal is to create a safe environment for all who use the Parkway, and this operation was a great success toward that goal,” added Acting Chief Ranger John Hearne.

The Parkway does not receive any money from tickets written by the rangers. All fines go to the Office for Victims of Crimes, which aids victims of crimes that are committed on federal land.

www.nps.gov