Friday, June 14, 2013

One of America's first interstate highways, The Natchez Trace

Stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, about 440 miles through the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, this prehistoric pathway found its origins from the migrations of the millions of buffalo that roamed  this region between their desire for salt licks in Tennessee and grazing land in the southern Mississippi region. Following them were the deer and other land animals seeking the shortest and safest pathways around hills, mountains, and predators. Buffalo the height of a small SUV and a lot ornerier (except for Marin drivers, Ruth says) have a way of clearing pathways through forests and brush-lands. Following them, at least several thousand years ago were the native Americans, the Choctaws and Chickasaws. Overhead, migrating along with these interstate travelers, flew the Passenger Pigeon, which at that time flew overhead in flocks one mile wide and taking up to 14 hours to pass. Considering the hot humid days we have been experiencing as we voyage deep in the south, the migrating crowd of animals and humans must have looked forward to the shade that huge umbrella of birds must have created...but then there was the "white rain" that must have tempered their feelings...

The Natchez Trace Parkway today follows this pathway in a much more modern manner today, in fact very friendly from our driving perspective. The road gently swoops and curves around geographic idiosyncrasies and lulls the driver into a deep wonderful sense of calm. The views on both side of the brilliant green ribbon of mostly forested road emit comfortable separation from the outside world, wild but civilized, long but determined, from the hoofs and feet of countless travelers through time. We stop occasionally to take in the sweet oxygen rich smells of forest loam and grass. In one area the trail
appears sunken due to the thousands or more hooves and feet that have eroded away the soil creating, deep spooky shadowed hollows.All too often animal tracks became pathways, then larger trails, carriage roads, highways, and ultimately interstates, and history is buried in time and development. Here we travel back in time to join the migratory ancient trek as millions have before us, like the voices of the past great ones, we are listening to answer their musical call. 

No comments:

Post a Comment