An Eye-Opening Drive through Mississippi

How can a state with the richest farm land in the world, in the richest country in the world, be so economically depressed?

I had driven through every state in the US except Hawaii, Mississippi, and Alabama. I drove a little bit of the gulf coast of Mississippi last fall, but that was it. Never really explored the state. We did it last week at the end of a roadtrip from Nashville to New Orleans and back. To avoid some nasty weather, we drove west and then north, and then east rather than driving northeast into the storm.

The eye-opening part was realizing exactly how depressed and downtrodden parts of our country are. After visiting the Windsor Ruins, we continued on into Port Gibson. This is where the eye-opening began. Port Gibson is a living ghost town. The buildings downtown are mostly deserted and decaying. Being overgrown by vines and shrubs and crumbling to the ground. This was once a proud little town, I suspect before the Civil War, but now, it’s being left behind. We bought gas at the local station and were approached (politely) for spare change in the parking lot. From here, it kept up. As we drove through rural Mississippi towns, we saw schools abandoned and overgrown. While the farm land we drove through is some of the richest in the world, downtown areas were derelict and deserted except for a tire store here and there. It was this way up to Memphis, where it continued right on up to Graceland.

It’s easy to think you know what poverty is, but even the hardest-hit towns in our state, Connecticut, are lightyears ahead of these towns in Mississippi. How did it get to be that way? In New England, when you outgrow a school, you don’t abandon it, you convert it into offices or housing, or you tear it down. Buildings don’t rot to the ground, at least not on the scale we saw in between Vicksburg, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee.

Quite a surprising drive.

1 comment:

James Hayward said...

A great post very interesting topic. The images that you have captured are great.