While the NPS has been conducting the Lower Mississippi Delta Region Heritage Study, many other parallel efforts have been underway in the region. State historic preservation offices, state parks departments, local citizens’ groups, university groups, and the Lower Mississippi Development Center have undertaken, often in partnership with other agencies and organizations, various historic preservation projects or tourism development efforts. The National Park Service has also undertaken a parallel effort of education and preservation projects to foster awareness and to assist preservation efforts in the Delta.
Following is a list of ongoing, completed, and/or projects for the Lower Mississippi Delta region related to heritage tourism opportunities and challenges:
Mississippi River Trail (Tennessee section)
The dream of creating a back roads bike trail along the Mississippi River is becoming a reality with the efforts of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Center. 1996 saw the opening of a 177-mile "Tennessee route of the great paddlewheelers." Bikers can now travel along scenic back roads between Memphis and Reelfoot Lake. Future plans call for expanding the route all along the Mississippi.
Rangers and Amtrak: Interpreting Landscapes of the States
The Park Service, in partnership with Amtrak and the National Park Foundation, have been presenting interpretive programs on board Amtrak’s City of New Orleans between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. This summer will see the expansion of the program to include towns such as Greenwood, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Fulton, Kentucky; Carbondale, Illinois; and areas up to Chicago. Interpreters deal with topics such as music, the Civil Rights movement, Delta culture, the Civil War, national parks, natural resources, and other relevant topics.
Delta Heritage Trail (Phillips/Arkansas/Desha Counties, Arkansas)
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has acquired from the Union Pacific Railroad, through the railbanking provisions of the National Trails System Act, 73.22 miles of abandoned railroad right-of-way. The Department will develop a multiuse trail along the corridor as funding becomes available. The corridor passes through some of the most remote and scenic areas remaining in East Arkansas and is in an area of the state that has been actively pursuing the full development of its tourism potential in recent years. It presents an opportunity for an extraordinary trail corridor providing recreation, tourism, and access to remote areas and protected lands for wildlife habitat and movement.
Mississippi Valley Heritage Center (Proposed - Blyethville, Arkansas)
This proposal is based on a report completed in 1995 on the "Feasibility of Creating an Archeological Heritage Center at Eaker Air Force Base, Blytheville, Arkansas." The proposal requests funds to implement the establishment of an archeological heritage center that uses the land and structures abandoned with the Department of Defense closing of Eaker Air Force Base. The archeological heritage center would serve the Delta as a regional archeological curation facility for the needs of state and federal agencies in the area and would interpret the early cultural history of the Central and Lower Mississippi River Valley.
Arkansas Delta PRIDE (Jonesboro, Arkansas)
The Department of Institutional Advancement at Arkansas State University has proposed a partnership of public and private organizations and individuals and local, county, state, regional, and federal agencies to identify, develop, and implement tourism initiatives for economic development throughout the Arkansas Delta. Focus of these efforts would be on environmental and heritage tourism. "Rediscover the Ridge" focuses primarily on the eight counties along Crowley’s Ridge. Efforts are going forward to designate Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, to complete a corridor management study, and to explore feasibility of excursion rail service.
Historic Natchez Conference (Natchez, Mississippi)
This conference provided the opportunity for participants to share archival materials and information for research underway in the south.
Yazoo Valley Mound Driving Tour Proposal
This cooperative endeavor between the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) and the University of Mississippi resulted in a proposal for an audiocassette/pamphlet driving tour of prehistoric and historic resources along national scenic highway MS 61.
Louisiana Mounds: Education Packet
The Park Service has prepared an education packet/folder that explains the significance and preservation values of the mounds. The packet contains NPS-contracted original artwork of the three mound sites. The archeological conservancy is in the process of acquiring these sites.
Mississippi Delta Mound Poster
This educational poster highlights ancient Indian architecture in the Delta. The posters were distributed to the seven state historic preservation offices of the Delta as well as some Native American groups for distribution to the public.
Internet Web Site: Mississippi Delta
This Web site provides educational and interpretive information on the natural and cultural resources of the Lower Mississippi Delta Region. The LMDR Web site is linked to the NPS Web site and the national parks within the Delta Region. Information specific to the legislative initiative is also included.
"Southern Cultural Landscapes: Past, Present, and Future" Conference (Oxford, Mississippi)
This conference brought professionals in the fields of cultural and natural resources, heritage tourism, and education together with government representatives to address cultural landscape recognition, preservation, and advocacy. It provided a synthesis of the human cultures from Native American, pioneer, African-American, antebellum, Reconstruction, New South, and natural ecological processes that have individually and collectively shaped the land and given rise to the cultural landscape apparent today.
Southeast Archeological Association Symposium on Archeology in the Mississippi Delta (New Orleans, Louisiana)
The Park Service sponsored and chaired a half-day symposium at the Southeast Archeological Association Convention on archeology in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region.
Louisiana Archeology Week Poster
The Southeast Archeological Center prepared the poster depicting a mound site for Louisiana Archeology Week.
Mississippi Delta Historic Housekeeping Workshop
Seven one-day workshops were conducted in small towns throughout the Delta Region providing information to museum professionals and the general public in the basic principles of architectural and museum collection preservation. About two hundred people attended the LMDR-sponsored "Saving Historic Architecture and Antiques" workshops.
Mississippi Mound Driving Tour
The Southeast Archeological Center and the Mississippi state historic preservation office developed a driving tour of mound sites predominantly in Mississippi but also included portions of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. A brochure is being prepared for distribution to tourism centers.
Preservation of Mississippi Mounds
There are ongoing efforts to protect Mississippi mound sites in perpetuity. While the primary sites are being protected by their owners, public and private, permanent preservation is needed. The Park Service is assisting the archeological conservancy in acquiring mound sites. The Mississippi State Parks Department is being consulted on its possible role in the managing of the sites.
"Raffman Mounds...Preservation for the Public" Concept Plan
This concept plan discusses ways the Raffman site could he managed if in public ownership. The Raffman Mounds site in Madison Parish, Louisiana, is a national treasure with the potential for significantly expanding knowledge of prehistoric cultures in the Lower Mississippi River Valley.
Ancient Earthworks of the Ouachita River Valley, Louisiana
As an offshoot of the research design developed by Southeast Archeological Center for the ancient Indian architecture study, a manuscript entitled "ancient Earthworks of the Ouachita Valley in Louisiana," by Dr. Jon L. Gibson, has been printed and distributed.
Mississippi Delta Traveling Trunks
A traveling trunk is a collection of hands-on educational tools for classroom use on a specific topic. The Lower Mississippi Delta Discovery Trunks consist of videos, brochures, games, and other three-dimensional objects drawn from NPS sites in the Lower Mississippi Delta. The focus on the Delta experience through the exploration of people, places, and change.
Civil War on the Mississippi Heritage Corridor – Brochure
To enhance heritage tourism and economic development in the seven-state area, the Lower Mississippi Valley Civil War task force has developed a brochure that features Civil War sites that are open to public discussion of military operations in the Lower Mississippi Valley from 1861—1865. The brochure also contains a narrative on the social, cultural, and economic aspects of the war in the Lower Valley. In partnership with state tourism offices in the Delta, the research has been done and the brochure has been printed and is ready for distribution.
Lower Mississippi Delta Mound Study
This study identifies approximately 5,200 mounds at 3,130 sites. It provides an evaluation of site conditions/significance and makes recommendations for preservation options.
Interactive CD-ROM on Delta Archeology
Work on the interactive program on archeology in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region continues. This interpretive program is planned as the first of a series of programs on Mississippi Delta theme areas and are targeted for use in parks and state welcome centers.
St. Martinville, Louisiana Heritage Project
This project will develop authentic living history and other interpretive programs that re-create the Le Petit Paris time period. Written materials (resource surveys, analysis, methods, interpretive methods, clothing patterns, etc.) Will be generated and housed in the Acadian Memorial Library so that other communities in the region can also develop authentic programs. Living history programs will be ongoing and workshops will be held in which other communities can learn techniques and interpretation.
1998 Natchez History Conference
Every two years Natchez National Historical Park, in partnership with the University of California and the Historic Natchez Foundation, coordinates the Natchez History Conference. The purpose of the conference is to bring together scholars, history professors and archivists from as many universities as possible to share southern history. The ongoing research being conducted in Natchez on the city courthouse records will also be unveiled to the academic community for the first time.
Planning Grant for Alcorn University Environmental Education Center and Cultural Complex
Alcorn University is the oldest historically black land-grant college 5 miles from the Natchez Trace Parkway. The proposed education center would offer courses in environmental education and will seek to locate and catalog earthworks, historic cemeteries, and structures on the campus.
Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana Heritage Project
This project will help local communities inventory, interpret, and develop programs for the late Federal Period and for the 19th century rural Italians. This area of Louisiana contains the largest rural settlement of Italians in the U.S. The late Federal Period program will also include southern Mississippi. Workshops and interpretive training, etc., will include other communities in southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi. Resource surveys, analysis, interpretation methods, and plans and materials relative to living history will be generated. Final materials will be distributed through the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and will be housed in libraries throughout the state.
Historic Donaldsonville Museum
Located in the historic Lelmann Store Building in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, the museum will preserve and present the heritage of Donaldsonville and the surrounding area. In addition the foal of the Ascension Heritage Association’s museum will be to promote tourism and be an education institution to inform people of all generations of the history, architecture, and culture of this area.
Great River Road State Park
A coalition of Rosedale officials and interested citizens area exploring the possibility of designating the Great River Road State park at Rosedale, Mississippi, as the Great River Explorers National Historical Park. The group is working with their congressional representatives to further this initiative to commemorate the exploration of the Mississippi River by early European Spanish and French explorers.
Cypress Sawmill Museum (Patterson, Louisiana)
This museum is in the planning stages. It is located in Patterson, Louisiana, off Rt. 90, the major artery that runs through Cajun Country. The museum will focus on the history and culture of the cypress lumbering industry in Louisiana from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. The museum will help preserve in memory a natural resource that has been almost entirely lost.
The River Heritage Center (CITY, STATE)
The Seamen’s Church Institute (a mission established by the Episcopal Church in 1840) has developed the River Heritage Center. The institute is currently installing a museum with interactive permanent and changing exhibits telling the story of the Four Rivers Region — a geographic region encompassing the Ohio, Cumberland, and Mississippi Rivers.
Paducah Wall to Wall: Paducah’s History in Floodwall Murals (Paducah, Kentucky)
This display of art includes renowned artist Robert Dafford paintings of Paducah’s rich history. A visionary project, which has paintings on the river’s city’s floodwall between Broadway and Jefferson Street, began in the spring of 1996. A 20- panel time line is slated for completion by the turn of the century.