There isn’t a better time to visit the historic Natchez Trace than right now! That’s because our friends at the National Park Service are gearing up to celebrate 100 hundred years of service in preserving America’s natural and historical treasures during the 2016 National Park Service Centennial celebration.
One of those great national treasures is the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, the scenic byway that commemorates 10,000 years of American history on an ancient trail that connected low, southern portions of the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
What’s so unique about the Trace is how rich it is in history. Over the centuries, the Choctaw, Chickasaw and other American Indians left their marks on the Trace, followed by heavier use from 1785 to 1820, when Kaintuck boatmen that floated the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to markets in Natchez and New Orleans. Armies of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Confederacy traveled along the Parkway at some point in time or another.
Today, you can experience portions of that journey the way earlier travelers did – on foot. The Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail has five separate trails totaling over 60 miles. The Old Trace makes today’s National Scenic Byway and All-American Road the ultimate place to explore historic sites, attractions, and interpretive exhibits.
One of the other unique ways to experience the Natchez Trace is to also visit its nearby National Parks, where history and Civil War buffs can explore the Antebellum years, the Civil War on the Trace, and the tough times afterwards.
Natchez National Historical Park celebrates the rich cultural history of Natchez, Mississippi and interprets the pivotal role the city played in the settlement of the old southwest, the Cotton Kingdom and the Antebellum South.
Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site, located 15 miles north of Tupelo, Mississippi, commemorates a battle which had one objective – make impossible the threat of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to interfere with General William T. Sherman’s railroad supply line from Nashville to Chattanooga during the Atlanta campaign of the Civil War.
Tupelo National Battlefield recalls a battle precipitated in the spring of 1864, by Major General William Sherman’s preparations to clear the way to take Atlanta and subsequently “march to the sea.” Here his forces clashed with those of Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest before withdrawing to Memphis, Tennessee.
Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee was established in 1894 to preserve the scene of the first major battle in the Western theater of the Civil War. Also within its boundaries are the Shiloh National Cemetery along with well-preserved prehistoric Indian mounds that are listed as a historic landmark.
If you’re keen for a historic experience, you’ll be sure to find it on the historic Natchez Trace thanks to our friends at the National Park Service.
The National Park Service is an agency of the U.S. Federal Government that was founded in 1916. The agency, created by the National Park Service Organic Act, manages all of our national park sites, including the Trace, and promotes historical preservation and conservation efforts at sites across the country.
While you’re out enjoying the 2016 National Park Service Centennial celebration, we hope you’ll join the conversation and stay up-to-date by following The Natchez Trace on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! And while you’re at it, share your National Park experiences on social media using hashtag #FindYourPark