Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Traveling the Trace–Day 1

We started on the Natchez Trace on Friday and since we had already visited several points of interest earlier we drove to the first campground, Rocky Springs, only about 50 miles up the Trace.  We planned to stay 2 nights, traveling south from Rocky Springs to see points of interest and then north about 30 miles to Vicksburg.

But on our way to Rocky Springs we stopped at the Sunken Trace pullout. There was enough room for our RV and Jeep and then another rig pulled in and parked beside and a little behind us since there was room for only one rig.  We met Paul & Peggy Snively and walked to the Sunken Trace together.  We soon became friends, exchanged business cards, and hope to meet up with them again on the Trace. They are new full-timers and excited to learn about rallies, blogs, and other resources for RV’ers.  We’ll be sending them lots of information soon.


This sunken area below is the exact path walked on by thousands sailors who came down the Mississippi on barges carrying goods, sold both the goods and the barges and walked back to Nashville on the Trace.


One of the stops we really wanted to see was Windsor Ruins.  This is an image that once you see it it will stay in your memory forever.  Windsor was once a 2,600 acre plantation that was a Union Hospital and observatory post so it was never burned during the Civil War.  But in 1890 someone left a cigar burning in one of the upper rooms and the mansion burned down.  The only thing left were 23 columns, balustrades, and the iron stairs. 


The columns are in a state of decay and some have fallen down over the 120 years since the fire.  There were chains restricting any access to the structure as it was too dangerous.


After we parked and set up we drove to the Battle of Port Gibson.  This was the beginning of the Siege of Vicksburg.  The house below was a hospital for the Union and the front porch served as the operating room.  There was a picture of piles of arms and legs that had been amputated. 


Tom tried being a part of living history by portraying the Union soldier marching up the road when the Confederate soldier shot him. 


After all this history we were getting hungry.  We read the suggestion of a restaurant in Lorman, that had the Best Fried Chicken in Mississippi. We backtracked 10 miles to the Country Store.  We were a little reluctant to eat here, but we went in and had the most amazing lunch: fried chicken, mac’n’cheese, collard greens, sweet potatoes, dirty rice, beans, corn on the cob, salads, sweet tea.  We vowed we would not eat for days.

We then drove into Vicksburg to the Vicksburg National Military Park.  This is a 16 mile long tour of the battlefield of the 10 week siege of Vicksburg by the Union. This is very similar to the tour of Gettysburg with all the state’s battalions marked with blue signs for the Union and red signs for the Confederates.  This sign is for our grandson, Logan.


There were huge monuments and small markers, there were cannons, and explanations of what was happening during the siege.

We ended our driving tour at the Cairo Museum.  The museum was just closing so we took a lot of pictures of the Cairo and planned to return on Saturday. We drove back to Rocky Springs – NO DINNER THAT NIGHT – WE WERE STILL FULL.

Saturday we drove back into Vicksburg starting our morning at the Waffle House. Then back to the Cairo Museum.  The Cairo was an Ironclad gunboat that was part of the Union Navy.  It was sunk by a mine in the Mississippi and sunk in 11 minutes.  No man was lost.  It was raised after 100+ years and is now beautifully displayed.  The place where the mine struck the Cairo can be seen in the front left side of the ship.


The ship is over 51 feet wide and 175 feet long. It had 11 cannons and was a steam paddle wheel that was designed to patrol both deep and shallow waters of interior rivers during the war.  She was one of six similar ships called “city class” gunboats.





The paddle wheels were just a jumbled mess when brought up from their watery grave and are now just beautiful. 


We stayed Saturday night again at Rocky Springs, but planned to move up to Jeff Busey campground Sunday.  These campgrounds on the Trace are free, nicely paved and are quite private in the woods. We dry camp. More tomorrow…

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