About Natchez, Mississippi
Natchez is one of the oldest European settlements in the Mississippi River Valley. The city was named for the Natchez tribe of indigenous Americans who inhabited the area from the 8th century AD.
Natchez, Mississippi history
The historic Natchez people were preceded by an indigenous Plaquemine culture rooted in the Lower Mississippi River Valley since 700 BC. Its people were noted for their hierarchical communities, platform mound architecture including nearby Emerald Mound, and intensive growth of maize. Around 1700 the Natchez abandoned their ceremonial site at the mound, shifting power to the Grand Village of the Natchez as the French made further incursions and indigenous populations suffered from European diseases.
The French established a town in 1716, later ceded to the British after the French lost the Seven Years War in 1763 but regained by the US after the American Revolution. In the 19th century, Natchez was the southern terminal of the Natchez Trace, an important role during the War of 1812. The city increasingly attracted wealthy Southern planters who built mansions and bought land to grow cotton and sugarcane using slave labour, transported down river to New Orleans and sent to Europe.
During the Civil War, Natchez was surrendered by Confederate soldiers without bloodshed and after the Union victory in 1863, many refugees including former slaves moved to Natchez and its countryside. However, because of Confederate raids and lack of Union funds, much of the population died of hunger and disease for the continuation of the war.
Despite regaining vitality after the war, the 20th century saw railroads overtake steamboat transport, bypassing Natchez. Later, local industries also struggled during an economic restructuring, reducing employment in the area.
Natchez, Mississippi today
Spared devastating conflict in the Civil War, much of Natchez remained post 1865. A walkable, vibrant and well-preserved city, take one of Natchez’s walking trails around sites including Fort Rosalie, the William Johnson House and Saint Mary Basilica, some of America’s most impressive antebellum architecture, many open for interior tours. Sites to visit also include a Natchez Indian village, Jefferson College and the Natchez Museum of African American Heritage.
After touring the historic town, pause for stunning views of the Mississippi River before sampling some fresh seafood.
Getting to Natchez, Mississippi
Natchez is located at the intersection of routes 61 and 425, on the Mississippi River. There is a bus station on Wood Avenue, a 45 minute walk into the historic town where a hop-on-hop-off bus service operates.
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