Today I spent a leisurely morning at Mike and Deb’s house. The forecast called for rain, so I wasn’t in a hurry to continue my drive along the scenic Natchez Trace. I tried catching up on my daily blog, but my posts take longer and longer to complete each day. Consequently, I’m still days behind. I thought by now, I’d be an expert writer, but I feel like I have used every word in the Thesaurus, and I’m still facing a writer’s block! For the afternoon, I continued down the Natchez Trace, the main road between Natchez and Jackson until the Civil War, stopping at Rocky Springs, Windsor Ruins, Mount Locust, and Emerald Mound.
The Scenic Natchez Trace
Our first stop, Rocky Springs, was settled in 1790 and grew to 2,600 people by 1860 before it was finally deserted. The town was originally established by a rocky spring which no longer flows. The Civil War, yellow fever, destructive crop insects, and poor land management led to the town’s demise. Now, all that remains is a church, its cemetery, a few cisterns, and the remnants of two postal safes.
Its post office was constructed in 1821. A sign posted by one of the rusted safes states its postal receipts were listed as $82.52 in 1827, $57.06 in 1828, and $49.23 in 1828. By comparison, the second largest postal facility in the state located in nearby Port Gibson collected $1,400 per year for the same period.
After looping around the ghost town, I stopped for two caches. One was conveniently hidden in the trees near the church, and the other at the bottom of an embankment. While I could have taken a paved road to the second cache, I took a short cut down a steep incline through some brush. Admittedly, I’d rather find caches closer to the beautiful sites than in a nearby poorly, groomed area. Regardless, I found them both!
From Rocky Springs I turned toward the Windsor Ruins. The Windsor Ruins are located eleven miles off the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway on Route 552. The two lane country road wound through nothing but forest. The surrounding area felt so remote that I glanced down at VANilla’s fuel gauge wondering if I’d get stranded. Fortunately, I had plenty of gas.
The only sign along the route indicating the direction of the ruins is a piece of brown painted plywood with white lettering hanging by chains from a metal post at the dirt road entrance. As we rattled through the bumpy passageway encompassed by dense forest, we arrived at a clearing containing 23 massive columns capped in ornate ironwork. My jaw dropped in sheer astonishment! I felt like I was a character in Land of the Lost. One minute I was rambling along the back roads of Mississippi, and the next minute I had arrived in Greece.
The columns were once part of the largest, most impressive antebellum home in Mississippi. Smith Coffee Daniel II, a cotton planter, completed the construction of his mansion just weeks before his death in 1861 for a staggering cost of $175,000. During the Civil War, Windsor served as an observation post for the Confederate troops and later as a Union hospital. Ironically, Windsor survived the War only to succumb to a fire in 1890 caused by a careless smoker.
After visiting Windsor Ruins, we returned to the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway to visit Emerald Mound and Mount Locust only 5 miles apart. We arrived near dusk and the gate to Mount Locust was closed. As a result, I settled for a long distance photo. In the early 1800s, Mount Locust was one of fifty stands erected along the Trace. The stands or “inns” provided a bowl of cornmeal mush and a spot to sleep on a wooden floor to weary Kaintucks.
Kaintucks were those who guided their boats down the Mississippi to Natchez or New Orleans to deliver goods, sold their boats for lumber, and trekked home on foot. The stands were separated by a day’s walk. Due to the significant traffic, Thomas Jefferson ordered that the footpath be widened to 12 feet to make it passable by wagon. Mount Locust is the only remaining stand on the scenic Natchez Trace.
Just as the Kaintucks used the Trace, so did the Indians who tracked buffalo into the woodlands. The Indians’ heritage is evidenced by the second largest ceremonial mound in the United States, Emerald Mound. Emerald Mound was built in the 1300s by Mississippians, ancestors of the Natchez tribe. The 35-foot high mound supported temples and ceremonial structures. After walking around the 8 acres, the dogs and I rested for the night at the Natchez Walmart.
Other Articles About Mississippi You May Like
- Day 91 – Natchez Trace Parkway Through Mississippi
- Day 92 – Natchez Trace Parkway Through Mississippi – Part 2
- Day 94 – Natchez, Mississippi
Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.