Lesson Plan

Something Old and Something New

Map of the Natchez Trace Parkway

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
History, Social Studies
1 or 2 class periods depending on skill of students
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
MS Objectives:
5th grade: 1c, 1d, 3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e, 3f, 3g 3h, 3i, 3k
6th grade: 2, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2f, 2g, 2h
8th grade: 4, 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e

Secondary MS Studies:
3, 3a, 3b, 3f, 4, 4a, 4b
mapping, compare and contrast, compare, contrast, human migration, early settlers, settlers, Old Trace, Natchez Trace, Old Southwest, Roads, Mississippi History, Alabama History, Tennessee History, boatmen, Kaintucks, natchez trace parkway, historic map


On seven maps from 1816 to the present, small groups of students will compare and contrast the areas surrounding the Natchez Trace Parkway and answer questions about the maps. The students will compare and contrast maps of varying age, detail and accuracy. They will draw on the maps to locate features. They will compare and contrast the growth of an area, using different maps. Review how to locate features on a map prior to the lesson.


Enduring Understanding: Maps can help us understand how a society has changed over time.

Essential Question: How does the Trace differ today form how it was 200 years ago?

The students will be able to:

1) Use a variety of maps to compare and contrast the development of a trade route.

2) Use maps to compare and contrast the changes in populated areas.


The Natchez Trace has existed for a very long time. It is widely believed that its beginnings lay with the formation of prehistoric animal trails. Naturally, when American Indians entered the area, they found it easier to hunt and move about on established trails. As Europeans entered the area, they utilized the trails established by the American Indians. The Natchez Trace was an important route for the return of traders who had carried their goods via river to sell in the Old Southwest capital of Natchez. Their return route was actually a network of trails that followed a general direction along a fairly centralized route. As time wore on, the soils along the trails compacted thus creating areas of "sunken trace". The Natchez Trace became a federal postal route in 1800. After the steamboat came into popular usage in about 1820, the popularity of the Natchez Trace declined as a northward return pathway. In the early 1900s the Natchez Trace was recognized as an important historic feature of our country. The Daughters of the American Revolution pushed for public recognition and erected markers in each county of Mississippi commemorating the most important trade route of the Old Southwest. In 1934, the U.S. Congress legislated investigating the establishment of the Natchez Trace Parkway as a National Parkway. Established as a unit of the National Park Service, construction began in 1938. The roadway was completed in 2005.


1.) Instructions

2.) Worksheet

3.) Answer to Challenge Activity

4.) Maps

5.) Green, red, and purple colored pencils



Correct completion of the activity.

Park Connections

Shows the students how the Natchez Trace has changed throughout history.


1.) Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway to see a portion of what they were mapping.

2.) Have the students write to their local, state or national archives or historic society and find out if they can find additional maps that represent other periods of history.


Horizontal, diagonal, vertical