The Historic Natchez Trace

During a stay in Tennessee this summer, I enjoyed reading news from the city’s past in the monthly publication The Nashville Retrospect. In 1801 the Tennessee Gazette reported that the 4th United States military regiment would spend the summer “employed in opening a road from Nashville to the Natchez.”
          That 500-mile road, known as the Natchez Trace, became an important route for commerce on what was then the Western frontier. Today, the historic route is a paved, limited-access roadway. In a few places, remnants of the original narrow trail can be seen. Available stops along the way offer scenic views, hiking trails, and historic locations from former Chickasaw Indian homelands to Civil War battle sites.
          On a hot summer afternoon we drove a thirty mile section of this road in our air conditioned car. Deer ambled across our path along this heavily wooded route and black and yellow butterflies danced in the breeze. It was idyllic.
          I had to remind myself that the original Trace was little more than a rugged path. It was frought with danger from accidents, wild animals and hostile Indians. My ancestors travelled this same route seeking trade in small communities farther south. For them, it was a matter of survival. I was glad for the opportunity to travel a few miles where they once walked, but without the same hardships.

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Published in: on August 23, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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