Our campground, Natchez State Park, is directly east across Highway 61 from the Emerald Mound. So the next day we drove there before driving the Trace into Natchez. This is another example of the existence of a community of Indians that lived between 1300 and 1600 A.D. in what is now the United States. We first discovered the Cahokia Mounds just north and a little east of St. Louis a couple of years ago. They were the largest. The Emerald Mound is the second largest.
We were feeling pretty adventurous so we walked to the top, then found there was another mound above that and there were 50 steps more to the very top. 50 steps both ways!
We made it and the view was pretty amazing. We were able to see how the mounds were laid out. We could see the small mound in the distance across the top of the high mound. There are 3 levels shown here; we are at the top, the path is on the middle level and the street in the distance is at the bottom.
We left for Natchez and headed for the Longwood Mansion. Tom had seen a PBS special on America’s Castles a number of years ago and this was highest on his list of things to see in Natchez. This is a beautiful mansion from the outside. It is the largest octagonal home in the United States. If it had been finished it would be 30,000 square feet.
There is a very interesting story behind this antebellum octagonal mansion built by Dr. Haller Nutt. It was begun before the Civil War, called the War Between the States by our tour guide. When the war started there were many craftsmen working on this. The framework and outside was completed, but the interior was still a shell when all the workers fled because of the War; it was then known as Nutt’s Folly. The family finished the basement and moved in and continued to live there for over 100 years. Photographs are forbidden in the living quarters, but allowed in the main part of the house.
The grounds were sooooo Southern: huge oaks, Spanish moss, porches and balconies. This was a perfect destination for an old woodshop teacher. Tom was in his element.
If only it had been finished, we could only imagine how beautiful it would have been. To learn more about Longwood, click here.
We decided to drive the first part of the Trace in the Jeep as it was easier to get around the pull-out areas. Our first stop was at Mount Locust, a stop for the travelers on the Old Trace and there was also a Ranger Station here. This home was built around 1780 and is one of the oldest structures in Mississippi. It was both a working Plantation and an Inn on the Trace.
Tom tried out the boot scraper. He said it worked just fine on his shoes, too.
Now it was time to try a couple of caches and have lunch at Magnolia Grill Under the Hill. So we drove back on the Trace to see where the Terminus was in Natchez.
We had a beautiful view of the Mississippi with several barges being shoved up the river.
To help us digest our lunch of Crawdad Po-Boy for me and a Catfish Sandwich for Tom, shared Sweet Potato Fries and Sweet Tea, we walked WAY up the hill to get a cache. We then had to walk back down the hill, this time next to the bluff. Tom hung over the edge (I hung onto his pants) to reach the cache. We got a Travel Bug and left 2 TB’s. (Spoiler below)
The saddest story we learned about Natchez was the role it played in the slave trade. There were not the auction blocks that were in Alexandria, VA, there were ‘slave stores’. These were areas where slaves were on display and on sale for a price. There was such a demand for slaves that when a chain gang of slaves was brought in there was sale at Forks in the Road. They were even ‘marketed’ – so very, very sad.
On our way back to the park we tried to get several caches, but they were too far into the woods and we are just not good 'bush-whackers’. We did manage to get one that was close to the road though. These are the days we love… good food, good history and a couple of caches.
We head for the Trace tomorrow