UNDATED, Miss. (WCBI)-The Natchez Trace Parkway turns 75 years old Saturday May 18th, and the National Park Service is celebrating its control of the two lane scenic bypass. A shindig is planned for the four hundred forty-four mile stretch of roadway. Touring the Trace on a motorcycle is a wonderful birthday present for Long Beach, Mississippi resident Suzie Johnston. She clutches her husband Steve as they head out for parts unknown between Natchez and Tennessee.
“It is gorgeous. We’ve done this ride several times. We absolutely love it. It is just gorgeous,” said Suzie Johnston, Long Beach, Ms.
The 444 mile stretch, covering three states has some 50 access points along the way.
“Andrew Jackson in particular used the Natchez Trace in 1813 to march troops up and down,” said Dale Wilkerson, Acting Superintendent, NTP.
Since 1938 when the National Park Service assumed control of the trace, senators and governors have discussed at length paving of the road first proposed early in the 20th century, but completed in 2005.
“Pave the Natchez Trace” became a popular slogan.
The Trace has been well maintained, however, care has been taken not to alter the natural landscape adjacent to the route from Natchez to Nashville.
“So we believe that nature takes it’s own course. And so when we have safety issues associated with falling trees or things like that we do take care to those for our public. But otherwise we let nature be nature,” said Wilkerson.
For travelers, the trace has become a piece of Americana, connecting the present day to the sunny slopes of long ago. There is sprucing up going on at Trace Headquarters in preparation for the weekend birthday celebration. And like any other day at the Tupelo Headquarters, people will be stopping by from places like Florida, Wisconsin, and Tennessee to enjoy the long, winding and beautiful parkway.
“Of course it’s going to take us awhile before we actually get down to Natchez but we’re just enjoying the ride and the wild life. Its beautiful,” said Johnston.
During the birthday celebration north of Tupelo at Milepost 266, there will be dignitaries, live music and activities for the kids. The fun gets started at 10 o’clock Saturday morning and lasts until 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon. Except for 1938-priced hotdogs and soft drinks, its all free.
For more information, call (800) 305-7417, or visit www.nps.gov/natr/parknews/parkway-celebrates-75-years.htm.