A portion of the Blackbelt Prairie survives at the Chickasaw Village Site (milepost 261.8) on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The crescent-shaped swath of prairie once extended from northern Alabama to northeastern Mississippi, and just a touch into Tennessee. A walk through the prairie in the summer will reward visitors with a variety of wildflowers. In this photo, purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea), white prairie clover (Dalea candida), and gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) provide the color.
Built in 1818, this home of John and Dolly Gordon was built in a modified federal style, but was considered elegant in its location on the "frontier" because of its brick construction. The Gordon family operated a ferry near this house to help Natchez Trace travelers cross the Duck River.
The Pharr Mounds site (milepost 286.7) is one of five mound sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway. These mounds were built by the ancestors of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez people, among others, and are still considered sacred today. The eight mounds at Pharr Mounds are about 2,000 years old.
Spanning the Tennessee River, this bridge makes the crossing seem insignificant. In the heyday of the Old Trace (1780s-1820s), the Tennessee River was a major obstacle for travelers. George Colbert operated a ferry to assist travelers in the early 1800s. Before that time, or to avoid the toll, travelers swam across the river.
Built in 1848, this monument commemorates the life of Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery. Lewis died near the monument while traveling the Natchez Trace in 1809. Though questions exist, most historians believe Lewis died of suicide.
Mount Locust served as a family home and as a stand, or inn, for Natchez Trace travelers. Built around 1780, the home and grounds are open for visitors during operating hours. Please visit the hours of operation link.
The "Old Trace," the historic trail commemorated by the Natchez Trace Parkway today, still survives in segments. The Old Trace was the main road through the Old Southwest, connecting Natchez to Nashville by going through Chickasaw and Choctaw lands.
The Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates a historic travel route that helped build the young United States. The Parkway 444 miles, with plenty of stops to allow you to explore some of the history or enjoy the scenery along the way.
There are five sections of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail that parallel the Natchez Trace Parkway. These sections range from 3 miles long to more than 25 miles long. The Potkopinu section, between milepost 17 and 20, follows the historic Old Trace. The "sunken" nature of the trail is due to the footsteps of thousands of travelers between the 1780s and 1820s in the soft loess soil.
Stepping stones allow visitors to cross Colbert Creek without getting their feet wet at Rock Spring. The half-mile trail is popular with wildflower enthusiasts and bird watchers in the spring and early fall.
The elegant Double Arch Bridge won the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995. It spans Birdsong Hollow and Tennessee Highway 96. To see it from below, take the TN 96 exit and stop at the pulloff before you get to the highway.
The Tobacco Barn allows visitors to explore the historic process of growing tobacco. A small tobacco plot is planted and harvested each year, and the plants are hung to dry in the barn. Tobacco was once an important cash crop in the area; most agricultural fields along the Natchez Trace Parkway now grow corn, soybeans, and cotton.
The Old Natchez Trace was an important travel route in the early 1800s, and was used by the military to move troops during the War of 1812--including to bring troops home after victory in the Battle of New Orleans. This monument, dedicated in 2012, commemorates the sacrifices made by those who fought.