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Natchez Trace, Mississippi Flooding and a Civil War Battlefield

March 22-31, 2018 — Hard to believe the month of March is in the books already. Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Most of the last ten days Mother Nature has provided us with perfect weather but just to keep us on our toes she did throw in a tornado warning one evening. Scary! Luckily we were at a Boondockers Welcome host site and were able to take shelter in their home. We started out at the Natchez Visitor Center in Natchez, Mississippi and traveled north along the Natchez Trace Parkway stopping in Rocky Springs, Jackson, and Eupora, Mississippi. The Jackson, Mississippi stay was at a Boondockers Welcome host site while the other three stays were at National Park Service areas. All stays were free of charge. 

Mile Driven – RV

Miles Driven – Car

The Natchez Visitor Reception Center in Natchez, Mississippi offers free overnight RV parking for up to two days. 20 amp electricity is also available although with the abundant sunshine we didn’t have a need to plug the RV in. Love having solar! 

Once leaving the Visitor Center in Natchez, Mississippi we officially began our journey of the Natchez Trace Parkway. 

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Our temporary home in the woods at Rocky Springs Campground in Rocky Springs, Mississippi, one of several National Park Service campgrounds along the Natchez Trace Parkway that offer free boondocking for up to 14 days. Glad we arrived early in the day as the park did fill up by the afternoon. 

The Sunken Trace is at milepost 41.5 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace appears sunken in this spot due to the thousands of travelers walking on the trail over eroded loess soil. The loess soil is windblown sediment/dust which then compacts with use. 

In the photo below you can see the original Natchez Trace path that is sunken at least 10 feet. 

Flooding from the Mississippi River caused this road near Port Gibson, Mississippi to be closed. 

The Grand Gulf Nuclear Generating Station in Port Gibson, Mississippi is the largest single-unit nuclear power plant in the United States and fifth largest in the world. 

We spent a day at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863. Also on site is the Vicksburg National Cemetery with 18,244 interments in which 12,954 remain unidentified. 

One of the many statues at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The USS Cairo was one of seven ironclad gunboats built at the beginning of the US Civil War by the Union forces. The ship was sunk in 1862 in the Yazoo River and was slowly covered with silt and sand. The wreck was discovered in 1956 and salvaged in the 1960’s. Many artifacts were recovered and are on display at the museum. One artifact of interest was a bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce which likely improved the ship’s food immensely. 

A tree burl found while out hiking. 

Beautiful hiking trails are present all along the Natchez Trace Parkway. This one is in the Rocky Springs area. 

Another fabulous Boondockers Welcome Host location we had the pleasure of staying at near Jackson, Mississippi. Very grateful to our hosts for allowing us to take shelter in their home during a tornado warning. Although the storm caused minimal issues in our immediate area, much of Mississippi was not so lucky. 

A red telephone booth found near the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. For a moment we thought we took a wrong turn and were actually in London, England!

The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi opened in 1903 and is the third capitol building in the city. The previous capitol building is now open to the public as a museum.

The Mississippi River Basin Model Waterways Experiment Station, located near Clinton, Mississippi, was a large scale hydraulic model of the entire Mississippi River basin, covering an area of 200 acres. The model represents 41% of the United States in miniature, took 22 years to build and was designed to simulate weather, floods and evaluate the effect of flood control measures. The model has been abandoned for many years but efforts are underway to restore it. 

We love taking factory tours of all kinds and jumped at the opportunity to visit Nissan in Canton, Mississippi. Approximately 6,400 employees manufacture 1,600 Nissan vehicles such as the Titan and Frontier trucks, NV van, and Murano SUV on a daily basis. That’s a lot of cars! Tours are by reservation only and fill fast so planning ahead is a must.

Natchez Trace Parkway hiking trail connecting the Parkway to the Mississippi Crafts Center. 

It’s a rough life being a tow car behind a motorhome, even more so when the roads are full of branches, oak blooms and pine needles following severe storms in Mississippi. 

We have highly enjoyed our trip on the first third of the Natchez Trace Parkway and look forward to continuing northbound over the weeks ahead. Follow along to see what we discover along the way.