Natchez Trace – Bike for the Cure – Day 2 – Florence AL to Tupelo MS
We started today driving from Florence, Alabama where we spent the night, about 17 miles back to the Natchez Trace. Sherri headed south on her bike at mile marker 330.2 Rock Springs Nature Trail where people can walk a designated bird watching trail. She rode to mile marker 320.3 Freedom Hills Overlook the highest point on the Alabama section of the trail, which included a two mile uphill in this hot, steamy climate.
Mary Ann took off from Freedom Hills Overlook and rode to mile marker 308.8 Bear Creek Mound a ceremonial structure built between 1200 and 1400 A.D. Many historic tribes built these mounds as burial grounds. Since restrooms are scarce on the Pathway and many are closed because of COVID-19, we had to drive in to Tishomingo State Park and beg them to let us in without paying the fee. After a three mile scavenger hunt we finally found a restroom.
Sherri got back on her bike at Tishomingo State Park and rode to mile marker 293 Tenn-Tom Waterway. This waterway was developed to connect the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River as a shortcut to Mobile, Alabama. The project was recommended to King Louis XIV in the mid 1700’s, proposed to Congress in 1810, surveyed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1827. The project was delayed for 100 years because of the expansion of the railroad. Construction was started in 1972 and completed in 1985. Oh, the wheels of progress!
From there Mary Ann rode to mile marker 286, Pharr Mounds where there are eight more ceremonial structures built 2000 years ago. Suddenly the sky opened up. Fortunately Mary Ann had the turn-out in sight, unfortunately she could not pedal fast enough to avoid getting drenched! The rain came down and the wind howled for about fifteen minutes. Luckily the car was parked by a covered shelter, but the wind was blowing the rain through the covered shelter, so she stood under the eave with her back pressed to the building and couldn’t even run to get in the car that was only 6 feet away! As soon as it let up we put the bike on the car and took off for Tupelo.
At mile marker 269 we stopped to look at a portion of the old Trace where 13 confederate soldiers are buried in unmarked graves. They may have perished here on the Trace from wounds, disease, starvation, or poverty. We will never know. At mile marker 266 is the Natchez Trace Headquarters/Visitor Center which is closed due to Covid-19. But the restroom is open! This is where we exited the Trace and went into Tupelo to get out of the rain.
Sherri and Mary Ann
(See Pictures Below)
Very historic today. Very little remains of the proud Chickasaw Nation in Mississippi, but evidence of the mound builders can be seen at two sites. The Bear Creek Mound is the oldest prehistoric site along the Trace and was probably occupied for several thousand years from 8000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. The Pharr Mounds, consisting of eight dome shaped mounds, is the most significant archaeological site in Northern Mississippi. Many artifacts have been retrieved from this site (artifacts from 100 – 1200 A.D.) These nomadic tribes would return here for ceremonies and to bury their dead.
The Tenn-Tom Waterway is adjacent to a large wooded wetland. Mary Ann has some interesting information above. This waterway provides a 450-mile passage for barges and shallow draft boats from the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico. The waterway only receives one quarter of the predicted traffic. It does provide recreational opportunities, including mountain biking along the canal, and a habitat for birds and other wildlife.
From the home front,