Traveling The Natchez Trace: Narrative 3

Visitor’s Center & Forks of the Road

After a good night’s rest we traveled to the visitor’s center before entering the “Trace” and Forks of the Road. It was our plan to travel about 100(+/-) miles of the Trace each day.  The visitor’s Center has an extensive display of panels providing the visitor with information concerning the Slave Business at the Forks of the Road.

 Instead of me writing about the displays, I will let the photographs speak for themselves.  The information was provided on banners and not posterboard /plywood, some of the writing might be difficult to read.  You will probably need to magnify the images to read the wording.  Click here

“Slavery is Central to American History. The labor of enslaved African Americans built much of the nation’s wealth and enabled it to gain its economic independence. The enslavement of people also challenged America’s fundamental commitment to freedom. (Natchez in the Center of Slavery)

Natchez was a major hub in the slave trade and the visitor’s center has extensive displays and information concerning America’s original sin. Forks of the Road was a place where African-American slaves were bought and sold during the days of slavery.  At the site of The Forks of the Road are a number of plaques describing the slave trade at that point. After leaving the Natchez Visitor’s Center we drove to the Forks of the Road – The slave market of Natchez.

The information will probably be offensive to most as you read and learn about man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, but it is America’s history and should not be “swept under the rug.”

BTW, when we were down in Abbeville searching for my grandmother’s birth certificate, we took a drive about 10-12 miles south of the town to where my grandmother’s grandfather (my paternal side of the family) was born.  He was enslaved on the Cade Plantation, but the plantation is no longer in existence.  My grandmother has two different versions of who her grandfather was.  He was either born of the White Plantation’s daughter [a written letter from my grandmother to her oldest daughter, or his father was the white plantation owner (her Bible)].   I’ve been doing research in this area.

“Natchez Mississippi Forks of the Road became the second largest  United States Slave Market in the Old Southwest. In early 1833 Issac Franklin of Kingpin Alexandria Virginia based ‘slave trading’ firm Franklin and Armfield, received a shipload of negroes for sale at Natchez.  Several of them contracted cholera and died.  Franklin partially buried their bodies in a local ravine that was soon discovered by city officials.  The gruesome discovery provoked a great fear of the dreaded disease infecting the citizens of Natchez and nearby counties.  The hysteria resulted in the City’s passage of an ordinance banning [slave selling] within the city limits effective April 27, 1833.  In response the ‘traders’ concentrated their dealings on the outskirts of town at a place know as ‘The Forks of the Road.’”

For images from Forks of the Road click here.

Sign to the beginning of the northward route along the Natchez Trace.

Upon leaving the Forks of the Road, we entered the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, about a mile NW from the “Forks.”  The drive is very peaceful and relaxing with a speed limit of 50 mph.  And yes, the Feds patrol this national parkway.  By-the-way, commercial traffic is not allowed on the “Trace.” Check the rules before traveling; fines can be expensive.  Get a ticket and you end up in Federal court.

Starting with the next installment of this travel, I will provide a map of the “Trace”for each day’s excursion to assist readers in orienting the images I’ve taken along the parkway to the locations photographed.

The video shows a small portion of the Trace shortly after entering the Parkway.

Natchez Trace: Narrative 4

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