Southern States Tour – Mississippi’s Waiting – 2 Days and Counting!

IMG_1072No, we’re not there yet.

With two days to departure, Roo and I are getting anxious and antsy. Eat, Ride, Sleep, Repeat, for ten days, has been our mantra for this trip, and so it shall be.

Our travel itinerary will take us to Tellico Plains, TN, then on to Nashville, the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Heading south for 444 miles through rural Mississippi, we will travel through Tupelo, Jackson, and finally Natchez on the Mississippi River. We will layover here for two days, then head east through more of rural Mississippi on our way to Birmingham, AL and the Barber Motorsports Park. After a layover there, we head for Alpharetta, GA, then home to Greenville, SC. Some highlights of our trip include:

  • Riding our motorbike for 10 days straight!
  • Touring Mississippi – the final state of my Southern States Tour! A goal realized!
  • The Natchez Trace Parkway – ancient history, Civil War history, natural beauty
  • Tupelo, MS: birthplace of “The King”
  • The Big Muddy – The Mississippi River
  • Barber Motorsports Park – 10th Annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival

The Natchez Trace: A Very Brief History

“You’re going WHERE? Why? And what is this Natchez Trace?” This was the typical run-on question I received when I told people of our vacation plans. Most have never heard of the Natchez Trace, and many wondered why we were going to Mississippi, of all places.

Simply, a trace was the 17th and 18th century term used to describe a path through the woods, and that is just what the original Trace from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN was. Actually, the Natchez Trace is one of the oldest routes in America, with origins that go back some 8000 years!

It began as a migratory path for buffalo and other wildlife moving north and south. It then served as a main artery of travel for Native American tribes to trade with each other, and, to wage war on each other. As America grew and pushed westward, pioneers settled and founded the townships of Natchez and Nashville. Natchez became an important shipping point on the Mississippi River, actually pre-dating New Orleans by two years. Nashville, TN became the western frontier in the late 1700’s, and a jumping off point for further westward expansion.

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 In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, farmers, craftsmen, businessmen, and anyone looking to make a buck would gather in Nashville, load their wares on barges, and make their way down the Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to Natchez. There they would sell their goods, including the lumber from their barges, and then make their way back north on foot and horseback. This was before the advent of steamship travel, so there was no sailing upstream on the Big Muddy. Travel was tough. Bandits were around every corner. Many never made it home.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation to create the modern day Parkway, which closely follows the path of the original Trace, in 1938. The Civilian Conservation Corps built it, and today the National Park Service oversees it. The final segments were completed in 2005 and it now extends uniterrupted for 444 miles from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.

I will be posting trip reports when we get back. Look for it as: Two Up on the Trace: Traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi.

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