IMAGES From Nostalgiaville
3/15/01 (Mile 399 to - 443)

NOTE: A Click of your Mouse on most of the pictures will enlarge them for better viewing

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(Mile 399 to - 443)

OLD TRACE (Mile 399)

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Preserved here is a 2,000 foot long section of the original Old Natchez Trace which follows a ridge 300 feet above the Duck River.  As you walk the Old Trace, imagine the ordeal of early 1800 travelers who had to make 20 to 30 miles a day on foot or horseback.

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Before 1805 the Chickasaw Indians owned all the land in this vicinity.  Only the Natchez Trace, part of which remains here, had made inroads into tribal territory.  When the Indians ceded land to the United States in the early 1800's, the Natchez Trace became a boundary.  The land behind you became government property under an 1805 treaty.  In 1816, the tribe ceded a much larger tract including the land in front of you.
Eventually the Chickasaws left their homeland.  In 1837 the government removed them to Indian Territory in Oklahoma over the tragic "Trail of Tears."  Despite the dissolution of their lands, the Chickasaws evolved a unique culture based on the American model.  As hunting ranges shrank, they became farmers.  The Chickasaws established their own schools, courts, and legislature.  During the Civil War the tribe joined the Confederacy.

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The widow Cranfield operated an inn here with her Indian second-husband who spoke little English.  According to legend, when travelers approached with questions about accommodations, he would only point to his wife and say, "She boss."  Travel on the Natchez Trace was an adventure in the early 1800's.  The 500 mile trail traversed a sprawling wilderness where only Indians, outlaws, and wild animals were at home.  Travelers needed a place to find food, supplies, and rest.
At government request, the Chickasaw tribe permitted the establishment of inns or "stands" at one-day intervals through their lands, but only if Indians were the proprietors.  One such stand known as "Sheboss" once operated near here, although the exact location is unknown.

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wpe948.jpg (4571 bytes) wpe949.jpg (26408 bytes) TOBACCO FARM - OLD TRACE
Tobacco Farm - You see here a typical early 1900's tobacco farm.  A 10 minute loop walk takes you through the field and to the farm where you see tobacco hanging to dry.

Old Trace - From here you may drive north on a narrow 2 mile section of the original Old Natchez Trace and meet the parkway at the other end.  Your slower pace may take you back in time and let you enjoy the views of valleys below.

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On this model farm, Burley tobacco is grown and air-cured.  It's a hard crop to raise, each acre requiring about 250 hours of labor. (Wheat takes only three hours).  William Coleman has been growing tobacco here for over 40 years.  Listen as he describes how it's done.

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wpe7A5.jpg (2990 bytes)wpe7A5.jpg (2990 bytes) wpe7A6.jpg (3470 bytes) Burley tobacco must be air-cured for four to six weeks in the barn before it is ready for market.  Burley is a light brown, aromatic tobacco used chiefly in cigarettes.  A small percentage is used for pipe and chewing tobacco.

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The barn was built for Mr Leland Greenfield in 1959 from timber grown on this farm.  Mr Greenfield first grew tobacco here in 1932.   The Greenfield family had owned the land for over 100 years before the State of Tennessee purchased and deeded it to the Natchez Trace Parkway in 1977.

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OLD TRACE (Mile 404)

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JACKSON FALLS - A steep trail, 900 feet long takes you to a clear pool at the base of these falls.

DUCK RIVER OVERLOOK - A gentle 1/4 mile trail leads to a viewpoint 300 feet (30 stories) above the Duck River.

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This trail descends to Jackson Falls, a beautifully sculptured cascade that seems ageless... but it isn't.  For thousands of years before the falls existed, Jackson Branch flowed into this high valley, isolated from the Duck River below.

Then, in a classic case of "stream piracy," Duck River captured Jackson Branch.  The flooding river and other erosion agents wore away at the bluffs, cutting a new channel through faults in the rock.  At the site of Jackson Falls, the diverted stream slipped down into the Duck River valley, abandoning its former course.

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Conservation differs from preservation in that it deals with the reality that we must use our natural resources.  However, we can have the benefits while conserving them for future generations.  Conservation focuses on "use" without abuse.
At the face of the cliff in the Duck River which is a tributary of the Tennessee River, clean water is a necessity for everyone.  Water management and conservation practices enable farmers to protect and improve the quality of our water.  The efforts toward water quality on the farm benefit even our most urban citizens.  Ultimately we all drink from the same container... planet earth.  Farm ponds provide water for livestock, prevent stream bank erosion, and provide a habitat for fish and wildlife, provide recreation opportunities, and add to the scenic beauty of the world around us. 

Agriculture can co-exist with wildlife by providing wildlife habitat areas that provide food and shelter for wildlife.  Agriculture works with the environment by considering all that is part of nature.  Pastureland must be managed to prevent erosion and overgrazing.   Conservation works to maintain and restore pasture cover which improves the soil resource.  Grassed waterways prevent gullies from forming while directing water safely across the land with minimal soil erosion.

Conventional tillage (turning the soil) leaves the soil unprotected from wind and water.  Conservation tillage uses as little disturbance of the soil as practical and residue from previous crops to protect the soil.  Reducing erosion protects the soil and improves water quality.  The man made scars of inning, visible even from a distance, blemish the landscape and are a threat to water quality and the environment.  Reclamation efforts heal the land and renew the rural landscape.  Filter strips remove sediment and other pollutants from runoff before the water reaches adjacent streams, ponds, and lakes.  Filter strips are used as borders for the cropped fields that are adjacent to Duck River.



wpe986.jpg (4398 bytes) wpe987.jpg (7062 bytes) One of the few remaining buildings associated with the Old Natchez Trace is the house of ferry operator John Gordon.  Built in 1817 - 18, the Gordon House was one of the first brick homes in this area.
In the early 1800's, Gordon settled here as ferry operator, trader, farmer, and Indian fighter.  Because military expeditions kept him away from home, his wife Dorothea supervised the building of the house.  Gordon died shortly after it was completed, but Mrs. Gordon lived here until her death in 1859.  In 1978 the National Park Service restored the house to its original appearance.  A ten-minute walk beginning here leads to a section of the original Natchez Trace and the Duck River ferry site.

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The 500 mile long Natchez Trace of the early 1800's, then known as the Natchez Road, connected Nashville on the Cumberland River with Natchez on the Mississippi River.  This historic wilderness road crossed the Duck River 1.4 mile south of hers.  John Gordon, an Indian scout and fighter with General Andrew Jackson, established a ferry and trading post here in 1802.
The high ground you are on is part of a long ridge that divides central Tennessee.  Streams south of the divide flow to the Duck and Tennessee Rivers, while streams to the north empty into the Cumberland River.

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Travelers in the early days of the Natchez Trace were more conscious of the divide.  Moving on foot or on horseback, they noticed changes in elevation and stream direction.  Going north toward Nashville, the Tennessee Valley Divide marked the edge of the frontier... the end of Chickasaw Indian country.



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This dirt path running along the ridge is a remnant of the original Natchez Trace.  In the early 1800's it was the most direct route northward from the port of Natchez on the Mississippi to Nashville.  In between were 500 miles of wilderness.

Boatmen, mail riders, traders, soldiers, Indians, and outlaws passed here.  On horseback and on foot... later with wagons... they followed the serpentine trail into the deep woods of Indian country.  By the mid 1800's cross-country travelers turned to other means of transportation... steamboats, railroads, and roads connecting developing towns.  As the wilderness began to fade, so did the old wilderness road.  Today only pieces of the Old Trace remain.



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"On the fourteenth day I got to Franklin a small town within 15 miles of Nashville, here [sic] I made a stay...

                       Dr Rush Natt, May 6, 1805

In the late 1790's and early 1800's more people moved to the frontier community of Nashville.  Like many growing communities, people began spreading out, looking for land on which to homestead.   Williamson County grew quickly, and its towns began servicing the travelers on the Old Trace.  Exploring communities adjacent to the Natchez Trace Parkway reveals clues to the history of the old Trace and the birth of the old Southwest.




TERMINUS (Mile 443)

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NATCHEZ TRACE PKY (mile 1 to 52)
NATCHEZ TRACE PKY (mile 55-180)
NATCHEZ TRACE PKY (mile 193-261)
NATCHEZ TRACE PKY (mile 266-309)

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