Thursday, October 26, 2017

Natchez Trace — Part 3

The Natchez Trace was a different road today, between Tupelo and Jackson, MS. First, we definitely passed between two distinct ecosystems. The mixed hardwood forest we'd driven through for two days, abruptly gave way to a narrow transitional belt of scrub pines and other unidentified flora.

Almost as abruptly, that was followed by a thick southern pine forest which I never got a good shot of, but which surrounded us for the remainder of our day's drive.

Second, the narrative shifted from stories of settlers who used the Trace, to the plight of various native cultures who lived here and lost their land over time through a series of treaties, purchases and simple evictions. In the process, the new narrative also included some mention of French and British dominion at various times. I'm tempted to brush up on my Early American history!

Third, there was much more traffic on the road in this section. The Park Service advertises that 5 million "visitors" per year use the parkway. I've been skeptical of that number, simply because the traffic I've seen is orders of magnitude less than would be required to meet it. Most of the traffic today was clearly local people who use the parkway for commutation and other regional travel. I'm guessing the Park Service counts every vehicle that uses the road for any purpose.

Perhaps for a related reason, the quality of the road in this section is not as good as it is up north. Down here, it is rougher and less well maintained... Maybe just more worn out? Nevertheless, it's been another good day of beautiful and informative driving. We should reach the southern terminus in Natchez, MS, tomorrow... Stay tuned!

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