The city of Vicksburg is much bigger than I expected. There is an industrial part, the National Military Park, the historic downtown and the riverfront. The Yazoo and the Mississippi Rivers have played an important role in this city’s history. The two rivers merge close to Vicksburg. The Yazoo River marks the southern boundary of what is called the Mississippi Delta, a broad floodplain that was cultivated for cotton plantations before the Civil War. Today river cruises and casinos are the big industry.
For Civil War historians and history buffs, Vicksburg offers copious amounts of sites and stories about the 47 day seige and related battles. The National Cemetery is 116 acres. There are several museums including The USS Cairo, The Military Park and The Old Depot Museum.
Vicksburg has many other non war related interesting sites. The catfish walk on Levee Street, next to the flood wall, has a series of murals depicting snipets of the city’s history. One of the murals depicts President Theodore Roosevelt, after a hunting trip in Onward, MS about ten miles from Vicksburg, not shooting a bear tied to a tree. This infamous story reported in 1902 in The Washington Post is where the teddy bear originates.
The Biedenharn Coca-Cola museum explains how one man changed the way the world drinks Coca-Cola. Joe Biedenharn was a wholesale candy maker who decided to bottle the drink. At the time, a soda fountain was the only way to enjoy the refreshment. The restored candy shop has bottling works, soda fountains and Coca-Cola memorabilia.
The Jesse Brent River Museum displays the life along the Mississippi River. There is even a simulator in the pilothouse of a ship to give you a feel for the river life.
Finally, Anchuca, one of many antebellum homes in Vicksburg, is the B and B where we stayed. This gave us unlimited access to the first columned mansion in Vicksburg. Anchuca, named for the Choctaw word for “happy home”, is a wonderful place to stay. We returned to the Natchez Trace and continued exploring the historic and natural wonders along the route. We stopped along the banks of the Pearl River Reservoir. There is a mile nature walk around a swamp filled with Bald Cyprus and Tupelo trees. It is eerie, beautiful and soothing all at the same time. The stillness and reflections are peaceful and comforting, very Zen. The “historic” storm stalled us in the exact center of Mississippi in a town named Kosciusko. This is one of the few towns where the actual Old Trace Road cuts through the town. It was originally named Redbud Springs and it was a center of trade activity. There is no information why the name was changed to the Revolutionary War hero. The Bed and Brekfast that we are staying in was converted from the family run, Price’s Grocery. It is now the President’s Inn and it is spacious and charming.
Between the bands of heavy storms, we took in the view from Jeff Busby Park.
We also stopped in the village of French Camp. This was originally Frenchman’s Camp named for it’s French founder. There are log cabins and other structures dating back to the 1820’s. The French Camp Academy operates the Historic District and runs the Council House Cafe. They serve delicious soups and sandwiches on home baked bread. Lip smacking good.