Natchez Trace and Tenn-Tom Waterway

Vicksburg was great, but more open road beckoned, so we moved on. Near Jackson, we took the Natchez Trace Historic Road north. The Trace is an ancient path, originally a foot path, traveled by Native Indians, hunters, adventurers and The “Kaintucks”, or boatmen from the Ohio River Valley, who after floating merchandise down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers on flatboats would dismantle the barges and sell them for lumber and then walk approximately 500 miles from Natchez to Nashville along the Natchez Trace; it is said that it took them about 30 days to make the trek home. Anyway, the Trace is a 440 mile stretch of road, actually a narrow park, part of the National Park System, from Nashville on the north end to Natchez on the south. We did the middle 140 miles from Jackson to Tupelo.

It’s a beautiful two lane road mostly through forest. We enjoyed seeing the spectacular scenery from the roadway. For approximately eight miles the Ross Barnett Reservoir parallels the parkway near Jackson, there were a lot of people out fishing, swimming and enjoying the beautiful sunny weekend.  Later we were surprised to see a Cyprus Swamp along the roadway.

There was a long stretch where the trees had been downed or damaged by a series of tornadoes in 2011.

There were many other sites, but mostly the road traversed heavily wooded areas. We stopped along the way to pull out chairs and enjoy the woods and a lite lunch. I have never been good at identifying which birds are which, except for the common ones around our home — but that’s not nearly enough — there were so many flitting around in the nearby trees, singing their varied songs.  I hope to get good use of the Audubon program that I downloaded to the iPad.

A few more scenes from the Trace

At Tupelo we turned east to find a Corp of Engineer campground that Brady had identified as nearby. This one is in Fulton, Mississippi on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, a navigable canal completed in the 1980s for commercial traffic. It extends from the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River in Alabama. The northern most of the locks on the waterway is near our campground, the Whitten Lock. The Lock raises and lowers barges and pleasure boats 84 feet, the fourth highest single lift lock in the nation. We have heard the horns of barges as they prepare to be passed through, but any time we were at the lock, there was no activity.

The campground is going to stand out as one of our favorites. We were fortunate enough to find an open space for three nights (with the 4th weekend coming those days are reserved well in advance). Our space is in the midst of tall trees, heavily shaded with a level pad and a well maintained gravel area for the picnic table and grill. You can see other campsites through the woods, but it still feels secluded. On Monday we made our first visit to a Wal-Mart, it must be a record for the longest we have gone without having to stop for additional supplies. Otherwise we have just enjoyed the camp, sitting under the trees reading and relaxing.

Today we left our nest in the woods, returned to Tupelo then north to Corinth and east past Huntsville. I was amazed at how wide the Tennessee River is, it seemed almost as wide as the Mississippi. Soon after Huntsville, it started raining, it had become increasingly overcast as the day drew on, so with rain predicted for most of the evening, we found an RV park and settled in for the night. The weather service is actually saying that there is likely to be rain squalls all the way through Friday, with possible flooding, I guess the fireworks for the 4th might be delayed around here. The day was uneventful, and since heavy rain is predicted for the 4th we have decided to stay an extra day and wait out the worst of it.

Entering the Appalachian Mountains

An interesting vehicle along the way

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3 Responses to Natchez Trace and Tenn-Tom Waterway

  1. Sharon says:

    Love it. The boatmen sound really interesting and the campsite looks beautiful. Maybe you can plan to hit that one on the way back home!

    Love you guys, stay safe and have fun!

  2. Sue L says:

    Hey, Charlene!

    Just checking in on the blog to see where you are…the Trace trail looks as beautiful as you described. I hope the weather clears up in your favor.