TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – The Natchez Trace Parkway is 75 years old today.
It was 75 years ago May 18, 1938 when Congress passed the bill creating the Natchez Trace Parkway as part of the National Park Service. Today members of the current Mississippi Congressional delegation joined the celebration at the Parkway Headquarters in Tupelo.
“The Nachez Trace is so much a part of Mississippi’s history, our nature our culture. And it happened because a lot of people cooperated together to a get tough project done,” says State Representative Alan Nunnelee.
“Why don’t we just start here in 2013 celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Natchez Trace and then next year we’ll celebrate the bi-centenial of Andrew Jackson’s march down the Natchez Trace to the Battle of New Orleans,” says Senator Roger Wicker.
Tupelo is a natural location for the park headquarters being almost in the middle of the 444 mile long national park. Unfortunately the Natchez Trace doesn’t have the bragging rights for being the longest. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 470 miles long. Still, no park has as many historical sites along its route, including the Chickasaw Indian Village, which is maintained by the dedicated national park employees.
“We have a crew of fanastic law enforcement maintainance, administrative, interpretative resource management personnel that manage all the diversity of natural and cultural resources along the parkway,” says Park Ranger Terry Wildy.
One of those resources is Patrick Shell, the Parkway’s Southern District Supervisor who gave visitors a history lesson about the contribution of black soldiers in the Civil War.
“What it makes me think about more than anything else is the price that was paid before me for my freedom. It was paid in blood. And although what I do here doesn’t compare to their sacrifice, what I’m really trying to do is be a voice for them and hopefully represent them in a way they’d feel honored by,” says Shell.
It was a great day for celebrating history.