Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Natchez Trace Parkway, Part One, May 13-16

The Natchez Trace Parkway stretches 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Around 1785 farmers began piloting their boats down the Mississippi river to sell their goods and then walk back to Nashville following the "Trace".  Today the Natchez Trace Parkway is a National Park following some of the trail back to Nashville.  The parkway it self is a pleasant two lane road with no shoulder and does not allow commercial vehicles.  There is little traffic and it is an excellent road for cycling, although I didn't see that many cyclists.  There sections of the Old Trace that have been preserved and one can hike them.  There is also the Scenic Natchez Trace designated for equestrian use.

We purchased the Guide To The  Natchez Trace Parkway, a complete milepost guide which lists all of the mile posts and description of points. This proved to be a valuable tool.  The park service puts out a map which lists the mile posts but is not as detailed as the guide.  With the park map, milepost, and Atlases of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee we hit the road with no real itinerary.

This is what the road looks like.  Joel did most of the driving while I took pictures.  There is no shoulder and the road is narrow in places, but a good road.
Emerald Mounds was our first stop.  The sign says it all.
The mounds are large but there isn't much to see.  We would  drive pass several such areas.

Mount Locust Inn and Plantation is a nice stop.  It provided a sort of "bed and breakfast" for travelers between Natchez and Nashville.  It's only about 15 miles up the Trace and an easy drive from Natchez.
The dinning hall of the the Inn
The back side
This is an example of the original Trace.  This section is quite often pictured on brochures and publications.
On Saturday we left Natchez and drove to Jackson, Mississippi, which is around the 90 mile mark.  Wow a whole 90 miles in one day!  We stopped at Rocky Springs Campground for lunch.  Its a nice little campground with plenty of pull throughs.  We only saw a few other campers.  We stopped at visitor center in Clinton but didn't learn much there.  Then on to Jackson and spent the night at Sam's.  We needed to get fuel, and Jackson seemed a logical place to stop.  There are many pull outs and stops along the way, but not much to see unless you use your imagination.

The next morning we got up and left before breakfast.  We stopped at Ross Barnett Reservoir Overlook.  The Reservoir is named after the 52nd governor of Mississippi.
Our next stop was at the Cypress Swamp.  We parked and fixed breakfast and then walked the leisurely trail amount the bald cypress and tupelo trees.
We continued on, stopping at a few stops, but again there wasn't much so see other than a sign describing what had been in the past. I drove a little on this stretch and I can say I am glad Joel is doing most of the driving on this no shoulder road.  We  stopped  at French Camp and I turned the wheel back over to Joel. We walked the grounds of the old stand (what they called the rest stops back then).  Since it was Sunday there wasn't much open.  Pioneer Day had been celebrated the day before and would have been interesting.  French Camp was and still is the home of French Camp Academy, catering to the needs of young people and does not charge a tuition, although it is encouraged.  We were looking forward to having lunch here after talking with a traveler who said the sandwiches were to die for but the cafe was closed. ):
This is the original home of Louis LeFleur who established the "stand" here in French Camp.  There was lots of old farm equipment on the grounds.

Note the old bellows .

A sorghum press is still in use during the fall when the sugar cane is ready.

As we continued on(we are around the 200 mile mark) we noticed that a tornado or high winds had recently destroyed most of the forest.  I learned that this was part of the swarm of tornadoes in late April that came through the area.  The park service had done an excellent job of clearing the road.

We stopped at Davis Lake for two nights. Its about five miles off the Trace. It is a wonderful campground with waterfront sites.    We had a nice site right on the water.

On Monday, from Davis Lake we drove up to Tupelo, which is the Natchez Trace Park Headquarters.  It is a nice center, but very small, not much new information.  It's too bad the main visitor center for the parkway is in the middle and not at either end.  It would much more helpful if there was more information in Natchez where we started out.

Pharr mounds are more Indian mounds. These mounds comprise one of the largest Middle Woodland ceremonial sites int he southeastern United States according to the park service.  Again, one must use their imagination to visualize what went on.

 The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway which makes a connection between the Tennessee River and the Mississippi is a 234 mile long, 300 foot wide by 9 foot deep channel.  We watched as a tug pushed a barge through one of the locks while standing on the Jamie L. Whitten Bridge.
This is the canal on the other side of the lock.

We got off the trace and took a loop through the country side and came upon this mass destruction in Smithville, Alabama.

I learned that an F-5 Tornado has passed through the area on April 27 around 3:45 in the afternoon.  It is a small town of 857 residents. Most of the homes were destroyed and 15 out of 16 business were also destroyed.  When I came upon this, I had flash backs of the some of the damage I worked on in Normal, Oklahoma where an F-5 pass through in the mid 90's. I can really feel for these folks and wish them a speedy recovery.

 We headed back to Davis Lake and will back track a little tomorrow and head to Red Bay, Alabama to the Tiffin Motor Home factory for a factory tour.  I've been to the Born Free factory in Iowa (Class C) but have never been to a large Class A factory.  This ought to be interesting. Joel will be like a kid in a candy shop.  


  1. ladynomad (Judy)May 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    I should have told you to be a 'name dropper' when you stopped at French Camp. That is where I spent two years as a volunteer. When I was there I did demos on old time crafts during Pioneer Days.

  2. The small town that was hit by the F5 tornado was Smithville, Mississippi. You said that it was Alabama, just had to make that correction :) I was able to do some volunteer clean up, very sad, will never forget it.