Not too far from where we live is an entrance to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Truth be told, it didn’t interest me that much. Well, this particular Sunday we were looking for a place to drive and this popped into my mind. We packed a picnic lunch, got ready, and went. We drove up Buffalo Road for a change. Really, it was because I wanted to see a house that we looked at before finding our current home. What a difference. When we first saw the place it was beautiful and we were sorry that there was not enough room in the dining room for us. Now it was much more grown up, the beautiful white fence was falling into disrepair and Joe didn’t even recognize it at first.
A little note about the Natchez Trace parkway is that it was an old Native American trail, particularly the Chickasaw and the Choctaw Indians used it. The French and Spanish explorers used this trail and then it was probably used by hunters. It eventually became a well traveled road, walking and horse travel that goes from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.
On with the drive. We finally made it to the Parkway. When we got out of the van the children were complaining of hunger. We told them after we explored this site we would go and picnic. Despite the hunger, Kevin still managed to find a nice cicada shell.
The first stop was the Meriwether Lewis site. There was a stand (what they called inns on the trace) where Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark) stopped. The present Governor of Louisiana, he was making his way to Washington, DC. In the room at the house, he was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. There stands a little log cabin with a display about Lewis’s life right next to the remains of that stand. Behind that there is a monument explaining what the Natchez Trace is. A ways over to the right is “Pioneer Cemetery.” There are many flat gravestones, and a large monument where Lewis is buried. There is also a nice sign explaining who put the monument there, when it was put there, and how they are sure that it is, in fact, Meriwether Lewis (including digging up the grave and finding the bones with a gunshot through the right side of the head!)
Next, Lunch! We were looking for the bathrooms and there was a sign. We drove for a bit and there came another sign, “restooms 1 mile.” Let me tell you, it was longer than a mile, but no problem because it brought us to the most awesome picnic site. It was next to a good size creek with all kinds of lovely stone coming down a cliff on the other side. It really was beautiful. We wished we had brought our creek shoes.
After our picnic, it was back in the van for some more driving. We decided to stop at “Jackson Falls.” We missed the turn so we went to a scenic overlook where we saw a farm and a meandering river. We turned around and went back. Here was the sign that was there. The sign mentions a quarter of a mile easy hike to an overlook or a steep 800 foot walk down to Jackson Falls. We chose the easy hike first. Well, it went to the over look that we had just turned around in, and it was longer than 1/4 mile! When we first got on the trail, I spotted this big/little guy. The children were picking up walking sticks. Pretty soon Charlotte had to have one too. We came back to the parking lot and started down the path to Jackson Falls. It was a wide, paved “trail” with railings, so it really wasn’t too bad. We passed a family along the way who told us that they really didn’t think it was worth it. There was almost no water according to them and the uphill hike just awful. We almost turned around, but then I suggested we see it now and come back one day after a lot of rain and see the difference. So we went on. This is what we saw.
It was beautiful, and to us, so worth the walk. On the way up when we saw people we told them there was not much water, but it was worth it! We met a family with 5 children, who clearly we would have gotten along very well with. Joe smiled and said, “Are those children all YOURS?” The man laughed, said yes, and asked the same. We chatted a few minutes and headed back to the van.
The next stop that we made was the Gordon House. Mr. Gordon ran a ferry near there and built a house. This is the sign. We went down to the ferry site (which was much closer than the 1/2 mile that the sign said. (We don’t believe any of those signs anymore!) One has to wonder where he would have run the ferry. It really was not far at all from one bank to the other. I was wondering what that spot used to look like. There was more of a trail, but we did not want to walk it, so we went back up to the house and went on our way.
We got off the parkway somewhere, found the highway, and headed to the Macaroni Grill for dinner. After that we went home. It was a really lovely day and we’re all looking forward to one day heading South on the Parkway.