Vicksburg: Home to a World-Class Geologic Story
In addition to being a key source of Civil War history, Vicksburg National Military Park also is an important geologic resource to Mississippi and the Gulf region. Due to its rock strata and paleontological resources, the park helps tell the geologic story of the area.
Early on in our country’s history, geologists and naturalists were making their way to Western Mississippi to study the thick soils and the underlying bedrock. French naturalist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur visited Vicksburg in 1828 to collect fossils and English geologist Charles Lyell visited the area in 1846 and published his findings in A Second Visit to the United States of North America. Eugene Hilgard, known as the Father of Soil Science, did extensive studies on soils in western Mississippi in the mid-1800s. He also aided the Confederates by helping locate salt and other geologic resources during the war. Even John Wesley Powell, most notable as the one-armed geologist and captain who led the first expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, collected fossils near Vicksburg while fighting for the Union during the Vicksburg Campaign.