Into the Natchez Trace

Post for 24-25 June 2021

I didn’t know about the Natchez Trace before this ride. A few cycling friends I respect recommended it enough that I decided to check it out, which meant leaving the Mississippi River Trail.

The original Natchez Trace was a trail used by Native Americans for centuries. One endpoint is Natchez, Mississippi, and another is around Nashville, Tennessee. Native Americans showed it to European explorers, and American pioneers used it after that.

Key parts of American history happened on the Natchez Trace. Settlers used it to move west. Pony Express riders used it for trips back and forth to New Orleans, from early Eastern states. It was also used by both armies in the Civil War, and several Native Americans were forced to move from their homes on the Natchez Trace, on The Trail of Tears.

These days, the National Park Service maintains it as a National Scenic Trail. No commercial traffic is allowed—which makes it great for cycling. The Trace runs 444 miles from Nashville, a bit of Alabama, and a lot of Mississippi. It’s usually about 800 feet wide.

That’s enough facts and figures. The song for this post is Nimrod by Elgar. The melody is slow-moving and mysterious, which resembles my first few days on the Natchez Trace. The song also has some melancholy tones, which are appropriate for the Trail of Tears.

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