Natchez Trace Parkway (Parkway) staff recently rehabilitated and opened 4.3 miles of Old Natchez Trace in Tennessee, the segments are located between mileposts 393 and 401.
Parkway staff are charged with not only maintaining the paved Parkway itself, but also preserving the original Old Natchez Trace. In continuous use for nearly 10,000 years, its unique among North American roads. Parkway Landscape Architect, Greg Smith, recently surveyed the 4.3-mile section in advance of the rehabilitation project that removed trees growing in the historic corridor and cleared downed timber. While hiking the path, he noticed remnants of the road’s evolution. “It has never been static. As needs and types of transportation changed through time, so did the road,” said Smith. Some sections are narrow and likely look as they did when it was used by American Indians. As settlers and soldiers arrived, the road was widened to accommodate wagons. When the automobile was invented, counties incorporated sections into their road systems by widening more and adding ditches.
“When I’m on a section and stop to think about all the people who have walked that same path, I’m reminded how important it is that we keep these preservation projects going,” said Smith. As Superintendent Laura Perdices has noted, “The Old Trace is the reason the Parkway exists.”
For more information about the Natchez Trace Parkway, go to www.nps.gov/natr or call 1-800-305-7417.
Posted on May 22, 2020
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