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Posts Tagged ‘Natchez Trace Parkway’

This remnant of the Natchez Trace took me back in history -- and made me think of fairy tale warnings about dark forests. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Travels With Maggie

 I was in Mississippi, headed west on Highway 84, with no campground reservation for the night. I was hoping the road would provide – and it did. Just outside the city of Natchez, I came across signs pointing the way to Natchez State Park.

 The public campground was yet another of those southern gems that had been enriching my travels for the past couple of weeks. It sits near the western terminus of the Natchez Trace, a 440-mile long ridge-line trail created by prehistoric animals traveling between bottom grasslands along the Mississippi River and salt licks near what is now Nashville, Tennessee.  The animal foot path was discovered and used by the Indians, and then by early European explorers and settlers.

I found the park so delightful that I spent three nights before altering my route to drive a short section of the trace. My eagerness to do so might have been influenced by the fact I had just recently read Nevada Barr’s murder mystery “Deep South,” which is set along the parkway, and the images she had painted of the scenery were still vivid in my mind. 

 It was a pleasant drive with almost no traffic through a landscape where human development has been banned. When I came across a place where the original trace was still visible, I stopped for a closer look. A National Park Service marker here informed me that “… The Natchez Trace was politically, economically, socially, and militarily important for the United States in its early development. Among those that traveled the road were American Indians, traders, soldiers, ‘Kaintucks,’ postriders, settlers, slaves, circuit-riding preachers, outlaws, and adventurers.”

Road marker along the parkway -- Photo by Pat Bean

 I felt like one of the latter when Maggie and I set foot on the remnants of that old footpath. It was if we were walking back in time. This section of the trail was closely hemmed in by trees whose limbs formed a roof above our heads. It was like walking through a tunnel, and the dim light that penetrated the ground brought to mind all those fairy tales that warned about being caught alone in the forest.

Back in my RV,  I followed the path of the Natchez Trace on my map all the way up to Nashville, but left it physically after only 28 miles. Driving the trace in its entirety is now on my bucket list.

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