Driving the Natchez Trace was one of our favorite things to do this year. This is a continuation of our drive. Please see part 1 & 2 if you haven’t read those yet.
Mile Marker 180 – French Camp – We loved this stop! It’s a wide open place where you can walk around the grounds, and read the history, see and touch the old farm implements and you have to eat at the little restaurant (best potato soup ever!). We also learned there is a school there. Not a typical school but some sort of school where the kids live there. From listening we understand it’s much like the “Hershey School” in PA. Also loved walking through the gift shops (there are 2). There is also a carriage house you can stay overnight in, and they have a wonderful bed and breakfast. Plan to spend a few hours here. It’s a great little community!
Mile Marker 122 – Cypress Swamp – I think this was one of my favorite stops. This loop takes you through a pretty amazing, but very short walk, Cypress Swamp. I didn’t realize just how unique and different Cypress trees grew. Though we were hoping to see an alligator, none seemed to be there while we were there.
Mile Marker 54 – Rocky Springs – This was another of my very favorite stops. We actually stayed in the Rocky Springs campground, so we were able to spend quite a bit of time here. This is an abandoned town. There isn’t much to see here in ways of structures or old town buildings. They have a couple old safe’s still, the church, which had a sign out for the next gathering, so we have to assume it’s still an operational church which was super cool. They history on why this town perished is really sad and unique. Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you. We did quite a bit of research on the history of places on the NT, but I tried not to read the stories before going. Only after. So that way we could learn while we were standing right in front of it. For us, that makes it so much more exciting.
Mile Marker 41 – The Sunken Trace – Make sure you stop at this! The trace appears sunken in this spot due to thousands of travelers walking on the easily eroded soil. This short trail will allow you to walk on the Natchez Trace just as thousands have before you. It was really a neat thing to see!
Mile Marker 30-40 – (side trip) Winsor Ruins – This stop was absolutely my very favorite. There is mystery, sadness and fascinating stories surrounding this. Don’t read any further as I’m going to spoil this one for you!
Windsor mansion was located on a plantation that covered 2,600 acres. The mansion was constructed between 1859 and 1861 for Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi and had acquired great wealth as a cotton planter by age 30. In 1849, Smith Daniell married his cousin (YUCK LOL) Catherine Freeland. The couple had six children, with three surviving to adulthood. Much of the basic construction of Windsor mansion was accomplished by Smith Daniell’s slaves. On April 28, 1861, Smith Daniell died at age 34, just weeks after construction of the mansion was completed. The mansion stood from 1861 to 1890, when it was destroyed by fire. The mansion was never photographed in it’s completion. And to this day there has never been any known photographs found of the completed mansion. There is only someone’s drawing of it found many years later. Hummmm … makes you wonder! Really enjoyed visiting this site. Such mystery surrounding his death, the fire, no known photograph … just fascinating. The ruins are falling. Literally. So don’t miss this while you can still see this. It’s not far off the NT, but don’t take your RV. Though it might be doable in a small one, if you have the choice, just unhook and drive out there. The parking near this is small and hard to turn around if your RV is large. The huge oak tree on the property was massive! See if you can find Justin in that picture!
AND … we completed the Natchez Trace! All 444 miles! We ended our trip by staying in the city of Natchez Mississippi for a couple days. We saw some Antebellum houses, and learned more history of the tiny town of Natchez. Driving the NT was one of our top things we wanted to do when we first started talking about traveling/living full time in our RV. We couldn’t have imagined it as amazing as it was. Take the time to do this drive! You won’t regret it.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” J.R.R. Tolkien