I went to New Orleans last week for the Traditional Building Show and Convention. While I was there, I took a few extra days to explore the wreckage of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In heading to Mississippi’s Gulf coast, I took a little detour: north out of New Orleans to Natchez, Miss, so that I could drive a little piece of the Natchez Trace Trail. This historic scenic road was a way home for farmers who had floated their wooden boat down the Mississippi from Ohio, Kentucky, and other farming states to sell their crops. They’d typically sell the boat too, buy a horse and ride it home. The trail goes from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee.
I’ve wanted to drive this road ever since Tinsley and I lived in Nashville. Our friend, Michael Evans, told us what a wonderful drive it is, but we never were able to take the trip. One of these days when we’re visiting her folks in Nashville, we’ll take a side trip down the Natchez Trace Trail for a family vacation to Planet New Orleans. For now, I’ll write about the chunk I covered last week.
The southern portion of this road is fantastic -- smoothly paved; curvy enough to be a fun drive, but not so curvy that the passengers will puke; and laid out to allow a reasonable pace -- 50 or 55 mph. This is better than the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you’re limited to around 40 mph (faster than 40 and the passengers will, you know, puke). And it wasn’t crowded at all (unlike the Blue Ridge). The 25 measly miles that I covered were a wonderful introduction. In fact, I seriously considered changing my plans from visiting the Mississippi coast and then flying out of New Orleans, to skipping the gulf coast, driving straight up to Nashville and flying home from there. My trip-let started in Natchez, and I drove up to the Windsor Ruins, stopping at the Mount Locust Inn and Plantation on the way. The Inn and plantation consists of is dog trot style cabin, some slave’s quarters, a four room, two story annex out back known as Sleepy Hollow (not related to the headless Horseman), and a couple of cemeteries. Because I was racing the light to the ruins (in order to get photos, see the top photo), I wasn’t able to really explore the Inn but I did snap a few photos of the main house (the light was great). The Mount Locust Inn was one of two or three that provided a place for travelers to sleep under a roof, get a hot meal, and stock up on a few supplies for the long trip. There were about 20 "stands" along the way that offered no sleeping quarters, just the bare minimum of supplies and food.
More Natchez Trace installments as we cover them…
Have you ever been on the Trace?