Saturday, April 11, 2009
The Natchez Trace, Part 1
New friends, Mike and Loretta, had suggested we take the Natchez Trace Parkway as we traveled to the east coast. What a great suggestion! The trace is actually a 440 mile long parkway, with a speed limit of 50 mph and no commercial vehicles, stop signs, or stop lights, so the driving is easy.
The Trace starts at Natchez and we were stuck by its beauty in the first mile. Crimson clover lined the roadways, Dogwoods were in bloom, everywhere there were flowers. American birch, southern pine and other new and unknown trees lined the road and it seemed as if we were driving in a tunnel.
Along the way mile markers are posted with frequent stops at historical sites. One of the first was at a place called the Emerald Mound. Its a huge Indian mound, built about 1600 and is over eight acres in size. Its amazingly huge compared to the Effigy mounds we were used to seeing in Iowa. We hiked to the top and Junior Ranger Renita reminded me to be respectful. I can't imagine how many baskets of earth were dug and carried to make this place.
Quite a bit further down the road we stopped at a place called Mount Locust. It was a stand, homestead, and plantation built in the 1780's, near the end of the Natchez trace and was a stopping place for the river men as they walked back home to Kentucky.
Huge fields had been cleared, by slaves of course, and I had a hard time imaging the work that went into removing the huge trees. The actual house had damage from Hurricane Katrina, but was being repaired and was mostly original.
Farther along the trail we stopped at Hurricane Creek Picnic area. High winds blew the trees and branches fell on fifth wheel, but nothing big. A little further we saw where a huge tree had blown down and blocked the side road,(Later we learned that high winds and hail had caused a lot of damage but we missed it all).
Again we were moved by the beauty of the parkway and resolved to return and drive it next time we pass this way. Arriving at our next spot, Trace State Park, we set up the camp, ate baked speckled trout for dinner, and called it an early night. What a great day! Clear skies