Natchez Trace – Bike for the Cure – Day 4 – French Camp, MS to Clinton, MS.
French Camp was a delightful surprise for us. The whole town revolves around the French Camp Academy, a boarding school for disadvantaged children. We spent the night at the Bed and Breakfast and awoke to the aroma of bacon cooking. The school has developed into quite a commercial endeavor. They own the bed and breakfast, a gift shop and restaurant and quite a few additional cabins that people can stay in. Most of the structures were moved there from other places. It is quite a symbiotic relationship!
After supporting the Academy through numerous purchases from the gift shop, Sherri headed down the Natchez Trace on her bike. First point of interest was Cole Creek. There you see a cypress-tupelo swamp, exactly what you would imagine a Mississippi swamp would look like. Due to lack of water, it is slowly being replaced by bottomland forest.
Next we came to the Kosciusko Visitor Center. There we met David Green, the docent at the visitor center. He was very friendly and informative.
Our next stop was another cypress swamp, Myrick Creek. Who needs Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean when you can come to the Natchez Trace and see a Mississippi swamp and not stand in line?
The Natchez Trace is rich with Native American History, and the Jackson area and south was the home of the Choctaws. In 1820, they signed a treaty with Andrew Jackson giving up 1/3 of their land. Close to Jackson we came upon the Ross Barnett Reservoir, a very large man-made lake on the Pearl River. Our last point of interest was another ceremonial mound. The Boyd Mound was three mounds joined together, measuring a total length of 100 feet. This mound was used over several centuries and today Native American people still feel connected to this area.
Sherri and Mary Ann
The town of Kosciusko is named after Tadeuz Kosciusko, a Polish engineer and military officer wo came to North America to serve George Washington during the Revolution. He was responsible for designing key fortifications including West Point on the Hudson River. Later he became enraged at the practice of slavery in the South and left money in his will to free slaves. The executor of the will, Thomas Jefferson, never carried out Kosciusko’s wishes.
The original Trace followed a ridge dividing the Pearl River flowing to the Gulf and the Big Black River which joins the Mississippi River. Before settlement, much of the land near these rivers was impenetrable swamps or soggy bottomland forest. Although teeming with wildlife, it was not ideal for people, horses, or wagons. So for 150 miles, the Trace dodged the worst terrain by staying on this ridge. At Myrick Creek, you can get a glimpse of how the Mississippi wilderness appeared with countless acres of cypress-tupelo swamps and hardwood bottomlands that disappeared as the land was drained for cultivation.
While this may be the flattest portion of the Parkway, the terrain does make you shift gears frequently, and there are a few hills near Jeff Busby that raise your heart rate. Just north of the Mississippi Crafts Center, the Parkway follows eight miles of shoreline along Ross Barnett Reservoir which is part of the Pearl River.
The information above is from the Bicycling The Natchez Trace by Glen Wanner.
Just one more day of riding on the Trace.
From the home front, Marie