I had this blog 98% complete last week, but during the final touches the technical gods, as they have done since the beginning of the year, decided to continue my punishment and wiped out every single letter of my writing. Is it because I still cling to Windows XP? Could it be that my refusal to accept fancy flash web building and videos that start automatically (and annoy the heck of me) has somehow put me at odds with technology who is now on a full court blitz to make my life miserable? Or could it be that it's simply time to stop using Google's Blogger for our blog? The jury is still out on that last question, but something tells me there is a better platform that would have let me go back to a previous draft of this blog entry. Of course, that has nothing to do with the hardware and software failures we've dealt with since the beginning of the year, and most definitely is not why 'you' came here.....so I'll gulp the last of my whine and move on.
Askew Landing to Natchez
|Water Mill at Grand Gulf|
|Old Church around Grand Gulf|
A tour through the 400 acre park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides visitors a peek at the past through displays in the museum, buildings and equipment on the grounds, and numerous historical markers. Visitors can tour the park by either driving or walking. The best place to start is in the museum, which provides information on the tour and features historical items, artifacts and photographs from the old town of Grand Gulf and the Civil War. It also features a campground, which accommodates both tents and RV's, picnic areas, a pavilion for large group events, hiking trails, and an observation tower.
Read more about the history of this once thriving port city in our article Grand Gulf - A Bustling Port Along the River.
Other new articles related to this area -
Rodney - From Prominence to Ghost Town
Bruinsburg to Port Gibson in the Vicksburg Campaign
Windsor Ruins - A Silent Sentinel to the Magnificent South
|Inside Mount Locust|
Native American's and early European settlers. The "stand" has been restored to it's original 1820 appearance, and while we were there, the National Park Service was building a new visitors information center on site. Be sure to walk behind the "inn" to the slave cemetery hidden in the trees just a short walk away.
After Mount Locust, and just off the trace (mile post 10.3), we headed for Emerald Mound, the second largest Indian Temple Mound in the United States. It was built and used between 1300 and 1600 A.D. by the forerunners of the Natchez Indians. These Indians used a natural hill as a base, which they reshaped by trimming the top and filling the sides to form a great primary platform, 770 feet long, 435 feet wide and 35 feet high. At the west end still stands a 30 foot secondary mound once topped by a ceremonial structure. Exit the Natchez Trace Parkway at Mississippi Highway 553 and go west one mile.
|Grand Village of the Natchez|
For more information on the original road, and the Natchez Trace National Parkway, including sites by mile post, see our article Natchez Trace - Traveled For Thousands of Years
Also enjoy our Vicksburg, MS Area photo gallery
The City of Natchez
|A view of Natchez from Louisiana|
Don't miss the incredible Natchez Visitors Center at the head of the Mississippi River Bridge on Highway 84. The facility is the Mississippi Welcome Center, home to local offices of the National Park Service, the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as Natchez Pilgrimage Tours. A must stop before you go touring, and a one stop shop for tickets to tour the antebellum homes.
|Kathy thinks Crawfish are too|
Back in the 1800's, Natchez was divided into two classes. The town on the bluff which was orderly and respectful,where life and property were safe. And then there was Natchez Under-the-Hill, the lower part of town along the busy river bank. Home to every vice imaginable, it had a rough and tumble time during the busy years of flatboats and steamboats. The historic building that is now the Under the Hill Saloon still speaks of a time filled with cheap whiskey, illicit love and gambling. The Saloon holds the distinction of being the only business still operating 'under-the-hill' that portrays the early days of frontier saloon life. This is a great stop to quench your thirst.
|Rosalie Mansion, Natchez|
In the mid 1800's, the city was home to a collection of wealthy Southern planters who grew large crops of cotton and sugar cane, leading to Natchez becoming the principal port for the export of these crops. The fortunes earned by the wealthy lead to the building of many large mansions, most of which escaped the destruction of the Civil War due to the city's quick surrender to Union forces in May of 1862. Many of these homes are open to tours, some even serving as a bed a breakfast. We will most definitely be writing more about Natchez soon.
Natchez to the Gulf Coast
We headed south out of Natchez to our next destination on the coast, crossing into Louisiana on Highway 61 before going back east to Bay St. Louis on I-12 out of Baton Rouge. Highlights for us from this stretch include Port Hudson and St. Francisville.
|Myrtle Plantation, St. Francisville|
We made a quick stop at Myrtles Plantation for some picture opportunities. Built in 1796 by General David Bradford, it was originally called Laurel Grove. The property has changed hands several times since and currently features a full service restaurant, Bed and Breakfast, guided history and mystery tours and more. Said to be one of America's most haunted homes, the plantation has been featured on several television shows, including Unsolved Mysteries in 2002, where the production crew is said to have experienced technical difficulties while trying to film.
|Display at Port Hudson|
As the siege continued for weeks, Confederate finally surrendered in early July after 48 days of battle. The siege of Port Hudson was the longest in American military history. Now a National Historic Landmark as well as a State Historic Site, they hold annual re-enactments the last full weekend in March. There's a small admission fee to the park, with a museum at the visitors center and several hiking trails. Nice stop for a day trip or on your way to other destinations.
Bay St Louis Area
|Mr Riley & Ms Kaydee were missing|
the 14 inches of snow back home. NOT
|This Oak carved into an Angle Tree|
to commemorate 3 survivors who clung
to it during Katrina.
Richardson hid in a nearby swamp before hopping a freight train to New Orleans, but came back to Bay St. Louis in late August to get his clothes. Spotted by a neighbor of his parents, he was captured, found guilty in September and after losing appeals, was hung early May of 1929. It was first hanging in 20 years, and the last hanging ever in Hancock County.
|Bay St. Louis old City Hall, now|
The town is also home to St. Stanislaus College, founded by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1854 and the oldest educational institution on the Gulf Coast. In 1923, the school became a college preparatory school. We had a great time in this area, and the residents have done a wonderful job in their continuing efforts to rebuild. It was definitely a "leisure" stop for us that included some much needed beach time. Other highlights of our stay included the beautiful drive along the coast to Biloxi and Gulf Port. Well worth your time, especially if your inland folks like us.
Here is our photo gallery for Natchez and our trip to the Gulf
Wrapping up our Winter History Tour with New Orleans & Southern Louisiana
After a wonderful stay just outside of Bay Saint Louis, we moved back west on Highway 90 to one of our ultimate destinations, the Big Easy. Along the way we stopped by Chalmette Battlefield, part of Jean Lafitte National Park. It was here that the famous Battle of New Orleans took place in January of 1815, the last major battle of the War of 1812, and one that is considered as the greatest American land victory of the war. It also didn't have to happen, since the Treaty of Ghent was signed just days before in late December of 1814.
|Battle of New Orleans|
|St. Louis Cathederal|
We also took time to ride the trolley lines through portions of the area to see the old antebellum homes, although looking back we would have explored that differently. Overall though, you will not be disappointed with a visit to New Orleans and it's rich history of culture. We were there weeks after Mardi Gras yet Bourbon Street and the entire area was alive with people the Sunday we explored the French Quarter, so no worries about missing any of the action the rest of the year. We will return and spend more time for sure.
|New York City's Calypso Tumblers|
perform at Jackson Square
|Tabasco Country Store|
|Swore he was fake, til the damn thing|
took off and scared the..well, you know
|Kathy and I capture our happy moment|
in front of the medicine cabinet at
We'll be writing more about Southern Louisiana in the months to come. It was a great adventure to wrap up our six week history tour. Although we had some setbacks due to RV problems in Mississippi that prevented us from seeing all we had planned to see, our trip did manage to teach us some valuable lessons; like shorter more frequent blogs are better (if you've made it this far you will probably agree), find a more reliable internet method other than RV Parks wifi and ATT's network, don't count on the weather to cooperate, and pretty much just go with the flow. I'm sure there's more lessons, but overall Kathy and I were very happy that we managed to live in tight quarters for six weeks with two dogs and still want to do it again.
Here is our photo gallery for Southern Louisiana, including New Orleans
RV Park/Campground Reviews
River View RV Park & Resort - Vadalia, LA
Good location, nice view of the river, very accommodating and friendly staff, some sites need better leveling as we had several inches of water at our front door after a heavy rain. WI-FI is non-existent, unless you're in the clubhouse, I guess. We were parked right in front and still couldn't get it. Excepted Passport during the week. We gave this one 7 out of 10
Bay Hideaway RV Park and Campground - Bay Saint Louis, MS
We can see why this RV Park is rated one of the best in the South. Great location just a few miles from the Gulf Coast. Very active with guests with planned outings and activities. Very clean and great Wi-Fi throughout the park during off peak hours. Although we stayed for only a few days (at passport rates during the week), there are several snow birds that come back year after year. Highly recommend this RV Park. While we did not use the shower/bathroom facilities, we did use their laundry, which was clean. We gave this one 8 out 10.
Jude Travel Park - New Orleans, LA
If you are wanting to get close to the French Quarter without paying through the nose, this is a great RV Park. They offer shuttle service to and from the French Quarter from morning to around 10pm. Great WiFi and Cable TV. The RV Park is very tight though, and while they are pet friendly, there's not a lot of places to take your dog, other than your own area and up and down the single road in/out. Would recommend to those wanting to spend quality time exploring New Orleans. We marked "do not know" on family friendly simply because of the tight space. Did not accept Passport. We rated this park 6 out of 10.
Chases RV Park - New Iberia, LA
Friendly staff and good RV Park. Great Wi-Fi close to the office, and just off highway 90 and 83 interchange. Did not use bathrooms while here, so don't know about them. Spacious and it appears to have some long term residents. Great place to stay to explore New Iberia and Avery Island which are close by. Did not accept Passport. We rated this one 7 out of 10.
(Note: We use RV Park Reviews. Traveling in a 22' Travel Trailer. All electric 30 amp or more unless otherwise noted).