Skirting the Mississippi River in the extreme southwest corner of the state, the Lower Mississippi Great River Road covers some of the most historically important terrain in the country. Covering over a thousand years of history from Native American civilizations to remnants of the Antebellum South to Civil War-torn battlefields and ruins, the byway takes you to landmarks which represent the nation-shaping events that transpired along the vital shores of the Mississippi.
Abraham Lincoln said of Vicksburg, "We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg." When the Southern States seceded, they closed off the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and brought commercial progress to a standstill. One of the most important military actions in the war, the ensuing campaign for Vicksburg in 1863 included battles on land and sea and ended with a brutal siege. Visit Vicksburg Military Park and walk the hallowed battlefield grounds and the largest Civil War cemetery in the country. Examine the extensive collection of monuments by artists of the day. Stop in at Grand Gulf State Park and walk among the headstones of fallen soldiers and imagine the cacophony of mortar fire that filled the sky during that crucial naval battle.
After the war, the area covered by the Lower Mississippi Great River Road continued to play a key role in the progress of the United States. Stroll the grounds of the first institute of higher learning in Mississippi. Jefferson College boasts a restored kitchen, dining room, and dorms, along with some original artifacts used by the students at the school. The 1960s Civil Rights Movement brought the public eye to Mississippi once again. Tour the Claiborne County Courthouse, a major focal point during the movement. One of the first buildings in the area, the courthouse was originally constructed in 1845. Now remodeled and enlarged, it still serves as a prime architectural example of the Greek Revival Movement.
Southeastern Mississippi claims a variety of culturally important locations as well. From some of the earliest Protestant churches in the nation to in-depth exhibits and museums telling the story of the Natchez Indians, your trip down the byway immerses you in the lives of the area's earlier occupants. As you travel this magnificent 100-mile corridor, breathe in the culture and history that exists everywhere around you and leave with a newfound respect for those who trod the land before you.
- Public domain.
- Copyright © 1999 National Parks Service.
- Public domain.