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Natchez Trace

NATCHEZ TRACE

NATCHEZ TRACE, a road running more than five hundred miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, on the Mississippi River, roughly follows an old Indian trail. After the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803, the economic and military necessity spurred the government to build roads. In 1806, Congress authorized construction to begin on the Natchez Trace. For several decades most of its traffic was northward, since settlers would float their produce down the Mississippi to market on flatboats and return over the Trace by foot or on horseback. Construction of a 450-mile parkway following the trace began in 1934. In 1938 it was designated the Natchez Trace National Parkway.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, Katherine J., and Lewis L. Gould. Inside the Natchez Trace Collection: New Sources for Southern History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999.

Daniels, Jonathan. The Devil's Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.

Davis, William C. A Way through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Gerald M.CapersJr./h. s.

See alsoLouisiana Purchase .

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Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace, road, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn., of great commercial and military importance from the 1780s to the 1830s. It grew from a series of Native American trails used in the 18th cent. by the French, English, and Spanish. At first traveled only N from Natchez to Nashville, because the American frontiersmen could float goods S to New Orleans by flatboat, it came to be used in both directions with U.S. expansion into the Old Southwest. It was made a post road in 1800 and was improved by the army. Andrew Jackson marched over the Trace to New Orleans in the War of 1812. With the coming of steamboat transportation, however, it passed into decline. The Natchez Trace Parkway and Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail memorialize and generally follow the old Natchez Trace. Meriwether Lewis Park and Ackia Battleground (now called Chickasaw Village), both former national monuments, were incorporated into Natchez Trace Parkway in 1961 (see National Parks and Monuments, table).

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Natchez Trace

NATCHEZ TRACE


Natchez Trace was an old road, measuring more than 500 miles long (800 kilometers); it ran between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee. "Natchez" is derived from an Indian tribe, which lived in Mississippi during colonial times, and "trace" is another word for trail often used in the South. The trace was carved out during the mid-1700s by pioneers who followed old Indian trails from Natchez, situated on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, through present-day Mississippi and northwestern Alabama to Nashville, in north-central Tennessee. Traders would float goods on flatboats (barges) down the Mississippi River, later returning north via the trace. The city of Natchez became an important trade center and between 1798 and 1802, when it was the capital of the Mississippi Territory. In 1806 Congress authorized construction of a road to follow the trace, widening it to accommodate wagons, and making it a post road, which was used to transport mail. During the early 1800s Natchez Trace was of great military and commercial importance. In 1938 it was made into a National Parkway.

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Natchez

Natch·ez / ˈnachiz/ a historic port city on the Mississippi River in southwestern Mississippi; pop. 19,460. The Natchez Trace, which leads from here to Nashville in Tennessee, was a 19th-century route for riverboatmen returning north from trips to New Orleans.

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