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Mississippi's Historic Natchez Trace   by John Kloster


Last summer the final leg of the Natchez Trace Parkway was completed,linking Natchez and Nashville and crossing the length of Mississippi.We'll follow the state's 276 miles of this historic route to discover the sites along the way and stop occasionally for a detour or two.

From Natchez through Port Gibson

Natchez was settled in 1716 and was home to many cotton millionaires.Their homes include The Briars,Rosalie, Dunlieth and Melrose.Longwood is an octagonal mansion that was never finished due to the Civil War. Stanton Hall is a Greek Revival mansion that covers an entire city block. Many mansions such as Monmouth Plantation double as bed and breakfast inns and even the Eola Hotel is a historic site. Attractions in the area include Natchez-Under-the-Hill, once the gambling and red-light district, Church Hill and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. The Natchez' nearby Emerald Mound was built around 1250 and is one of the largest ceremonial mound sites in the country. Depart Natchez and stop at Mount Locust, a restored 1780 frontier inn that provided food and lodging to early travelers. It's just a few miles from there to the Ruins of Windsor, the remains of the largest antebellum mansion built in Mississippi and today a popular stop. The home was used as a Union hospital and burned during a party in 1890. Nearby Alcorn State University has the home's iron stairway at its chapel. Alcorn was originally a school for planters' sons and became one of the country's first land-grant colleges for African-Americans.

Jackson & Ridgeland

The 1842 Greek Revival-style Governor's Mansion is the secondoldest in continuous operation in the country. A block away is the Old Capitol, now the site of the Mississippi Historical Museum. The Agriculture & Mississippi Wilderness exhibit.The Welty House Museum opened last month. The family home of renowned author Eudora Welty is the only home she ever lived in and where she wrote all her books. The house is now a literary museum and the gardens, often featured in her writing, are open for tours.While in town, be sure to visit the Fondren District for shopping and dining and check out Greater Bellhaven Market, an open-air market open Saturday mornings and selling authentic Mississippi food products and crafts. Just five miles north in Ridgeland is the Mississippi Crafts Center.

Tupelo

Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Presley and the tiny house where he was born is part of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Center. It also contains a park, chapel,museum and landscaped grounds with a life-size bronze statue of "Elvis at 13," the age at which the family moved to Memphis. A driving tour includes the hardware store where he bought his first guitar, the school where he performed in a talent show and the fairgrounds where he built his reputation. Tupelo is home to the Tupelo National Battlefield and Brices Crossroads National Battlefield Site,where Union forces suffered a major defeat late in the war. Near the battlefield is the Chickasaw Village, which shows Native American life and history in an 18th century setting.

Get more information on Mississippi at Leisuregrouptravel.com

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