Saturday, June 22, 2013

Natchez Trace - Port Gibson, MS to Jackson, MS - Saturday, June 22, 2013

            This morning was beautiful – the temp and humidity were very comfortable.  After a great B & B breakfast, I took Cal back to the Trace so that he could begin where he stopped yesterday.  I then returned to the B & B for another cup of coffee and more conversation.   Our hostess gave me directions to the Windsor Plantation Ruins about 12 miles out of Port Gibson toward the Mississippi River.   The “Big House” had a fire which destroyed the whole structure except the exterior columns, and they are still standing.   I followed this narrow curvy back country road out of town.  First I came to the location of the first church in the area – a Presbyterian log cabin church sitting on a knoll, above the Mississippi River. 

            After more tight curves on this narrow road with trees hanging over the road and where I met only 1 car, I came to a sign for the Windsor Ruins.  Oh My! Huge columns standing so stately out in this wooded area!  “If only they could talk!”  There are remains of 23 of the original 29 columns, but what was so impressive were the top metal Corinthian Capitals.  They are so ornate, as you can see from my photos.  Also as you can see, between some of the columns the iron balustrades remain in tack.    
Morning Mist on the Trace

Early Presbyterian Church

Windsor Plantation House Ruins
Capital of one of the Windsor Ruin Columns
            The Plantation at one time covered 2600 hundred acres above the Mississippi River. The house was built between 1859 and1861.  It had 25 rooms and each room had a fireplace. There were bathrooms with water coming from a holding tank in the attic.  For this era the house had innovative ideas. However the owner, at the age of 34, died several weeks after the family of 9 moved into the house.  How tragic!  Only 3 of the children lived to be adults.  During the Civil War the house was used by both the Union and Confederate troops.  In 1890 while preparing for a grand party, there are several theories as to what happened but a fire started and burned the house completely to the ground except for the 29 columns.  These columns are standing as straight as the day they were built.  Our B & B hostess has hosted archeologist who have dug around the bases of several of the columns and they have discovered a huge foundation system under each column.

            I am so glad I took the time to drive out to the Windsor Ruins.  I finally caught up with Cal on the Trace.  After lunch I went on into Jackson, to arrange for a hotel for us.  While checking in, it began to pour down rain.  I hurried back to Cal on the Trace where it was still dry. However soon after I found him, it began to rain, but he was dry!  We are in Jackson, Mississippi for the weekend.  Tomorrow Cal will ride the few miles on the Trace that will get him to the north side of Jackson where the hotel is located.  Then he will take a break for the rest of the day. 

Sunken Trace
Sunken Trace

Corn Field Along the Trace

Baling Hay along the Trace
            At one time on the Trace I saw corn fields – reminded me of Iowa!!  Also we are including photos of the old sunken Trace.  Sunken by years and years of use.          

   The history regarding the Trace: For centuries this path was used by animals migrating from the salt licks in Tennessee to the Mississippi River and Native Americans.  It actually bisected through 3 Native American nations.  It is a path that angles between the Mississippi River at Natchez and inland to near Nashville, TN.  When white settlers in the Cumberland, Tennessee and  Ohio River regions had commodities (cash crops, livestock and other materials) to sell, New Orleans was the place to take them.  They would build a raft/flat boat of logs and float down the rivers to Natchez and New Orleans where they sold everything, including the logs.  In the early days there were no steamboats on which to return home back up river, so the only way home was to walk or buy a horse to ride home.  These men who were flush with cash from selling their goods were often targets on the way home.  There were also those who developed a system of road houses/inns along the way in which the travelers could eat and sleep. In 1801, President Jefferson declared the Natchez Trace a national postal road.   

            However after the steamboat came to the Mississippi River between 1830-1850, the use of the steamboat to return home changed the Trace forever.  The steamboat was faster, cheaper and safer.     

In 1938 the Natchez Trace became a part of National Park System.  It is now designated a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road.

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