Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi
Mississippi is well known for many things: Blues music, American history and southern cooking. It’s also home of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a lush part of the state that I was fortunate to stumble across recently.
Beautiful Mississippi Countryside
Running parallel alongside the “Old Trace,” the Parkway begins in Natchez, in the southwest of the state, and continues north for 444 miles to Nashville, Tennessee.
The surrounding countryside was green, the trees well established and the undergrowth plentiful. The two-lane road was flanked on either side by densely wooded areas. Originally a series of pathways for Native Americans, hunters and traders, the Old Trace was simply the best way for people to make their way from one place to another.
The town of Natchez, the Trace’s origination point, is believed to be the oldest European settlement on the Mississippi River.
History Galore along the Old Trace
Heading north, I came across numerous historical sites, including the Shaifer House, where the first shots of the Battle of Port Gibson during the American Civil War were fired; Grand Gulf Military Park, with its two fortifications; and Vicksburg National Military Park, where you can see the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, the last one remaining of its kind.
Before leaving the area, I stopped by Windsor Ruins, located near Port Gibson. No doubt once a very grand mansion, its days came to an end when a houseguest accidently dropped a burning cigarette and the whole place went up in a puff of smoke. All that now remains are the majestic columns. I’m guessing the guest was not invited back…
Old Meets New Southern Cuisine
Back on the road, I picked up some special fried chicken from The Old Country Store Restaurant in Lorman. Since 1875, travellers from The Trace have come here to stock up and trade. Today, it’s some good ole southern cooking and a gift shop of trinkets you’ll find. When I apologised for having my food “to go,” the owner “Mr. D” said, “I got no worries about you coming back. I put my secret ‘Come Back Baby Sauce’ on it”. There was certainly something fabulous in it all right. By the time I reached my next stop, everything was devoured and I was ready for more.
It’s a good job I was in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, and also the epicentre of Southern culinary delights. A delicious lunch of tuna ceviche, followed by encrusted red snapper awaited me at 1908 Provisions and sent my taste buds turning.
Birthplace of (the King of) Rock n Roll
My final stop along the Natchez Trace Parkway was the town of Tupelo, otherwise known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
Tupelo is where Elvis made his first radio broadcast at the age of 10. The tiny house where he was born was built by his father, after obtaining a $180 loan from his boss. It had no indoor plumbing.
The Elvis Presley Museum, the statue of The King, as well as the church and chapel on site, all pay homage to the Legend of Rock and Roll. Outside of the museum sits a 1939 Green Plymouth, a replica of the family’s car which they drove to Memphis in search of a better life when Elvis was 13.
All in all, my trip took me through some wonderful places that will surely please history and music buffs alike. Be sure to include the Natchez Trace Parkway on your next U.S.-bound itinerary.
For more information, please visit us:
Official Mississippi Travel Information
When you goThings to Do
1908 Provisions Restaurant