What Is the Significance of the Natchez Trace Parkway?

significance-natchez-trace-parkway Credit: Ron Cogswell/CC-BY 2.0

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile highway that follows along the original Natchez Trace, a pathway to the American Midwest used by humans for over 10,000 years. Some of the Trace's users include Native Americans and settlers. Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition died and was buried along the Natchez Trace in 1809.

The Natchez Trace played a pivotal role in the War of 1812 when General Andrew Jackson used it as a safe way to move and supply troops. His experience using the Trace in his younger years led him to use it to American military advantage when it was believed the Gulf Coast was inaccessible due to the British Navy's presence. Troops from Mississippi and Tennessee also used the Trace as the pathway home following the war.

The Trace got its heaviest use from 1785 to 1825, when it was used by boatman and sailors making their way north from Natchez and New Orleans.

Construction on a parkway to follow the Trace began in 1937 and finished in 2005. The parkway accepts vehicles and bicycles and is a part of the National Parks Service. The parkway runs through portions of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama and offers numerous campgrounds, scenic views, boating, hiking and horseback riding.