By Murray Seals
Natchez, Ms. is perched 200 feet above the Mississippi River on the highest promontory north of the Gulf of Mexico. It is the oldest civilized settlement on the river, beating New Orleans by 2 years. Natchez was inhabited by prehistoric Indians and then by the Natchez Indians, from whom it derives its name. The first European settlers were the French in 1716, then the British in 1763, in 1779 the Spanish, and finally by the Americans in 1798.
From 700 AD – 1730 AD, the Natchez Indians, one of the mound builder cultures, inhabited this area. The mid 1500’s was the zenith of this unique culture, and from 1682 – 1729 the Grand Village, located on the banks of the St. Catherine (as it is now known) creek, was their main ceremonial village. An excellent museum is now located on that spot. I strongly suggest you visit this peace of history while in Natchez. It’s free and easy to find. A good friend of mine, Mr. Stu Neitzel, The Father of Southeastern Archaeology, did the majority of the excavations at this site.
The Natchez Trace is another piece of Americana worth seeing while in Natchez. This “road” was the major link between Natchez, Ms. and Nashville, Tn. Indians, robbers, con men used this path to travel between the two locations, stopping at various towns along the way. The King’s Tavern, in Natchez, was the southern end of the Trace. The food rates about a 7 on a 1 – 10 scale, but the history there is worth the visit. They do have an excellent bar!
Most people equate Natchez with antebellum homes, cotton, riverboats, and the Civil War. There are over 500 houses, churches, and other buildings dating back before the Civil War. During March every year, Natchez hold its Spring Pilgrimage with tours of the houses, and a tableaux performed by the locals which depict pre civil war Natchez. During this time, the owners of the houses on tour actually dress in period costumes. Needless to say, March is a very good time to visit Natchez.
While there, you might want to tour the Old South Winery and taste some of the local wines. For overnight accommodations you have your choice of a bed and breakfast in an antebellum house or a traditional motel or hotel. There are antique shops everywhere, and, of course, there are the usual souvenir shops where you can find something to take home to those who weren’t lucky enough to see it first hand.
Of course, no visit to Natchez would be complete without enjoying your beverage of choice on Silver Street, at the Natchez-Under-the-Hill Bar. Be sure to tell Johnny Montgomery, the short (4’11”), grey haired and mustached bartender, Eddie Seals said “hello.” Yep, The author has first hand knowledge of Natchez, since I grew up in that quaint little town.
Hardy-Anders Field Natchez-Adams County Airport, (HEZ), (N31-36.81 and W091-17.84) is 108 nm at 312° from Slidell, ASD and is 6 mi. NE of Natchez. There are two asphalt runways 31-13 (150’X6500’) and 18-36 (150’X5000’). The Unicom frequency is 122.8 and is open 24 hours. The precision approaches include a GPS RNAV, ILS, NDB, VOR, AND VOR/DME with the HEZ VOR (110.0) on the field. There are rental cars available on the field, but the Lady Luck Casino will also pick you up, usually, in their limousine.
The people at the FBO have always been courteous and helpful and a joy to visit with. If you go up during the week, be sure to visit L V’s Snack Bar on the second floor of the terminal building for an excellent hamburger.
Well, that’s all for this time. Keep the dirty side down, blue above, and may you always have a tailwind.
Natchez Trace photo ©2000, Henry Richardson. All Rights Reserved. More of Henry’s nature and other photos may be viewed at World Photography by Henry Richardson