Today’s post is the fourth in our reprint of the 1941 publication Mississippi Tourist Guide, which focused on the many attractions along Mississippi’s newly paved highways. (Check out the Intro if you missed it.)
“Ole Man River Trail” (U.S. 61)
For 1800 miles, through nine states from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, bordering the great Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans, this smooth scenic highway leads the traveler into a land rich in tradition and historic lore. At Tunica U.S. 61 begins its southward swing through the great alluvial plain, known as the Mississippi Delta. All along the smooth scenic highway cotton culture can be seen in all its glory. At Vicksburg the traveler is introduced to an entirely different, but no less fascinating phase of the old South. From Vicksburg to Woodville, located in the southern part of the State, U.S. 61 passes through a section of the nation famous for its preservation of the atmosphere of an ante-bellum South. Beautiful colonial mansions, historic landmarks and magnificent scenery are all part of the splendor of this romantic picture.
Clarksdale, first of the typical Delta towns, is the next stop after U.S. 61 leaves Tunica. Numerous cotton gins and loading platforms add to the color and excitement of this prosperous trading center. The Carnegie Public Library and several historic homes are the chief points of interest.
Further South are Shelby and Cleveland, two growing Delta towns, made prosperous by the large planting interests of its inhabitants. Located at Cleveland is Delta State Teacher’s College.
Leland, where U.S. 61 junctions with U.S. 82, is one of the few Delta towns which do not depend entirely on cotton farming. A beautiful and quiet little community, Leland is a favorite stopping place for travelers.
Below Leland at Hollandale is Leroy Percy State Park, a magnificent wooded area with splendid recreational and camping facilities. Two large lakes for fishing, swimming and boating, numerous bridle paths and attractive cabins make this park a delightful retreat for downsouth visitors.
Anguilla and Rolling Fork are in the less prosperous region of the Delta but do not depend entirely on farming for their economic life. Three large Indian mounds at Rolling Fork give an insight into the past history of this fertile region.
Vicksburg, “Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” is the first of the historically interesting cities to be found on the “Old Man River Trail.” In 1863 Vicksburg was the pivotal point of the Campaign in the West. On the site of the daring struggle between General U.S. Grant and General J.C. Pemberton is Vicksburg National Military Park. There are 1,598 memorials, monuments and markers in the park, making Vicksburg one of the best marked battlefields in the world. Located on majestic bluffs overlooking the great Mississippi, the battlefield has an appeal of beauty entirely apart from its historic attractions. Adjoining the park is the Battlefield Golf Course, one of the most sporting links in America. Other attractions at Vicksburg are historic Warren County courthouse, shelled by Union gunboats during the war, and the U.S. Waterways Experiment Station, largest and best equipped hydraulics laboratory in the world. At Vicksburg, U.S. 61 junctions with U.S. 80, which crosses the Mississippi River here over a $7,000,000 combination rail and vehicular bridge.
Port Gibson, 29 miles below, is a natural supplement to Vicksburg. As the first Mississippi town captured by Grant, it played an important role in the ensuing struggle at Vicksburg. The Irwin Russell Memorial, Presbyterian Church and numerous ante-bellum homes and churches are of particular interest. Near Port Gibson are the ruins of Windsor, once a magnificent colonial home.
Fayette, between Port Gibson and Natchez, is the birthplace of many outstanding Mississippi leaders. Its historic courthouse is a favorite visiting place.
Natchez, one of the earliest white settlements in the state, has been nationally recognized as a treasure house of historic lore. Over 100 ante-bellum homes and buildings give the visitor a glimpse into the South’s romantic past. Sunset over the broad Mississippi, as seen from the bluffs of Natchez, is a sight that never ceases to thrill. Each spring, Natchez sponsors pilgrimages, during which the beautiful homes are opened to visitors.
Woodville, last of the ante-bellum towns, with its beautiful colonial homes and glorious traditions is an inland Natchez. The Woodville Republican, which takes its name from the “Republican” party of Thomas Jefferson, is the oldest paper in Mississippi. A number of old homes are opened each year during the annual pilgrimage, sponsored by the Woodville Garden Club.
More about 61 Highway and other Mississippi highways . . .