The Natchez Trace Parkway, part of the National Park System, runs 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. First it was an animal trail used by American Indians. Then, in the 1800’s, it was the main return route for Ohio Valley traders who after bringing their goods down the Mississippi River would sell their boats for the price of the lumber and would walk home. When steamboats came to the river in the mid 1800’s that changed everything.
At Mile Marker 5.1 is the Elizabeth Female Academy Site. Founded in 1818, it was the first school for women chartered by the state of Mississippi.
We only drove 8 miles of the Trace today. We wanted to spend more time exploring the town of Natchez, so we back-tracked a bit.
There is a ton of history here, and we found some of it. Our first stop was to visit Natchez Under-The-Hill. This landing spot on the river was the beginnings of the town. It has since moved to the bluff above. Back in the day it was a very despicable place, filled with pirates, highwaymen, gamblers, and prostitutes. Now it’s part of the town’s charm.
While we were down there we stopped for lunch at Magnolia Grill. The food was very good, service was great, and prices reasonable and we had a table by the window for a view of the Mississippi River.
Natchez is the oldest European settlement on the Mississippi River. It was settled by French, English, Spanish, Scottish, Irish and Italians. The whole town is a museum and they have embedded directional arrows in the walkway to guide you on different walking trails and there are interpretive panels everywhere. Natchez will be 300 years old and will celebrate it’s Tri-centennial in 2016.
The locals here have been so friendly. While we were out and about people would talk to us and welcome us and hoped we have a good visit.
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides are available here, but we did not do that today.
There is also a driving tour of historic houses which includes at least a dozen Antebellum homes, many are open for tours.
Melrose, a Greek Revival Mansion, was considered to be the finest home in all of the Natchez region. It is now part of the National Park Service. We toured this today. It is currently being renovated. The inside is fully furnished with original furniture and decor with “all that fine taste and a full purse” could provide. The park ranger guided us through the first and second floors and explained about the history of the place.
- Gasoline Expense: None
- Lodging Expense: $13
- Admission Fees: $10