TUPELO, MS: In an effort to preserve Emerald Mound, the Natchez Trace Parkway (Parkway) removed the stairs that lead to the top of one of its secondary mounds. Located in Jefferson County near milepost 10, the 8-acre, 35-foot high Emerald Mound has two secondary mounds on top of the primary mound, bringing the total height to approximately 60 feet. It was constructed and occupied between 1250 and 1600 AD and is the second largest Mississippian period ceremonial mound in North America.
The area beneath the stairs constantly eroded and had the potential to adversely affect the resource and destroy the mound’s integrity. Tribes associated with the site expressed interest in preventing public access to the top because of the sacred nature of the site. Therefore, the Parkway decided to move forward with the stair removal.
The Emerald Mound site is a National Historic Landmark (NHL) and is one of just over 2,500 places that share that designation. Only historic properties that have exceptional value in telling the story of the United States and its citizens are listed as NHLs. Given its importance, the Parkway is especially vigilant about caring for the site. “By removing the stairs, the Parkway will help preserve the site for the local community, park visitors, and all who hold it to be a sacred place,” said Superintendent Mary Risser.