Scenic USA - Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee
Natchez Trace Parkway
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Ben's Panoramio Gallery
Stretching across three states and connecting the major cities of
Natchez and Nashville of the Old southwest, the Natchez Trace Parkway was added as a unit of the National Park Service in 1938. The 444 mile scenic byway and historic route was officially completed in 2005. A natural pathway utilized by Native Americans long before Europeans came to North America, the Natchez Trace connected the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw and Choctaw Tribes. By the late 1700s, new arriving settlers thoroughly trampled the rough trails, some of the oldest in North America, into a well defined route. By the time Jefferson was president, the Natchez Road was a major national highway and official postal route.
Placed on a French map in 1733, by the early 1800s farmers from the Ohio River Valley began to use the route to the Deep South searching for new markets. Floating their crops and agriculture products by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers was essentially a one-way trip down-river. Once in Natchez they sold their flatboats for lumber, returning home by way of the Natchez Trace trail. The popular route home turned the trail into a road and became the most traveled in the South. By 1820 more than 20 stands operated on the Natchez Trace, providing food and shelter. By the 1830s the Natchez Trace had reached its peak.
Times quickly changed in America with advancements of steam power and railways. Steamboats provided a quick and safe trip from New Orleans to St Louis, Nashville and Louisville. The Natchez Trace lost its northbound travelers and prosperity on the trail quickly faded.
Today, the All American Road cuts across Mississippi, the northwest corner of Alabama and into Tennessee. Sprinkled with a hundred or more points of interest, the scenic drive also offers a variety of hiking trails, historic exhibits, picnic areas and campgrounds. A nearly continuous greenway, the parkway is routed through four ecosystems and eight watersheds where travelers may enjoy all the sights at their own leisurely pace.
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