Don’t miss these sites along the Natchez Trace

‘COME SEE US’ – The MBJ’s annual Meetings, Conventions and Tourism magazine (Spring 2014 edition)

 

Pharr Mounds (Courtesy National Park Service)

Pharr Mounds (Courtesy National Park Service)

PHARR MOUNDS, milepost 286.7, are a prehistoric Native American site built between 1 and 200 AD, making it about 2,000 years old. There are eight mounds on 90 acres. These mounds built by Native Americans during the Middle Woodland period are considered the oldest manmade monuments in North America. While you can’t actually walk out to the mounds like at Emerald Mound, the site is still worth a visit to view in the distance. In addition to being a burial mound for humans, items excavated at the site include ceremonial artifacts such as copper spools, decorated ceramic vessels, lumps of galena (shiny lead ore), a sheet of mica, and a greenstone platform pipe. The copper, galena, mica and greenstone were imported long distances through extensive trade networks.

Emerald Mound (Courtesy National Park Service)

Emerald Mound (Courtesy National Park Service)

EMERALD MOUND, milepost 10.3 on Natchez Trace Parkway, was built and used sometime between 1200 and 1730 AD by ancestors of the Natchez Indians and other tribes. The National Historic Site is one of the largest mounds in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world. It is a National Historic Site. The base mound is 35 feet tall, and a mound on top rises another 20 feet. Still considered a sacred site today, quite a few Native Americans come to pay their respects.

Mount Locust Historic House (Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority)

Mount Locust Historic House (Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority)

MOUNT LOCUST Historic House and Information Center, milepost 15.5, offers an intriguing glimpse into the antebellum South with tours of the plantation home built around 1780. Located about a day’s walk from Natchez, in earlier years it was an inn for travelers. In addition to tours of the home guided by park ranger interpreters, the grounds are a great place for a stroll, as well. The restored home has period style furniture and is considered one of the absolute jewels on the Trace.

Cypress Swamp (Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority)

Cypress Swamp (Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority)

CYPRESS SWAMPS, milepost 122, is one of the most popular nature walks on the parkway. There is a half-mile loop trail on a boardwalk that goes over the swamp itself. There are interpretive signs about the area’s flora and fauna. The trail through Tupelo gum and bald cypress trees is particularly popular with birdwatchers, and in the warmer months visitors might see an alligator or two. At dawn or dusk, the trail can be a bit eerie, making for interesting photographs.

NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY VISITOR CENTER, milepost 266, Tupelo. Visitors are welcome to stop by the Visitor Center and ask about any of the sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway. There are exhibits, an orientation film, and friendly rangers who can answer questions. Visitors with questions can also call the Visitor Center at 800-305-7417. The Visitor’s center is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Christmas.

 

Little Mountain's scenic view (Courtesy National Park Service)

Little Mountain’s scenic view (Courtesy National Park Service)

JEFF BUSBY SITE, milepost 193.1. This well-liked recreation site is named after the former U.S. congressman who helped the Natchez Trace Parkway come into existence in 1938. The site includes Little Mountain, the second highest point in Mississippi at 603 feet above sea level. There are many different types of hardwood trees along the trails, camping area and picnic areas. There is a service station and camp store at the site.

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