About five miles north of Port Gibson on the Natchez Trace Parkway is the site of Magnum Mound, believed to have been built by the Plaquemine Indian culture around 1000 years ago. The Plaquemine's were a forerunner of the Natchez tribe which were encountered in this area by the first French explorers.
Mounds such as this one were used as platforms upon which buildings were erected of interwoven rods and laths, plastered with mud. This construction technique is called wattle and daub. The mounds were also used for burials and reburial of human remains. Like their Natchez descendents, those of the Plaquemine Culture sacrificed infants in their death-ritual ceremonies.
A parking area is at the site and there is a hiking trail around and over the mound with interpretative exhibits.
Very close to Magnum Mound, and about five miles north of Port Gibson, is Grindstone Ford in Bayou Pierre. This was about 45 miles, or a two days walk, from Natchez during the heyday of the Natchez Trace. It marks the boundary between the Natchez district and Indian territory of the Choctaw Nation.
The Ford was named for a water-driven mill nearby. It was a major water crossing on the
Trace because Bayou Pierre is a stream that can be floated for more than 100 miles before it eventually feeds into the Mississippi River.
We took a short hike at Grindstone Ford and came upon a very interesting old cemetery dating back about 200 years, as seen in this photo.
The Natchez Trace is an ancient trail, first created by animals, then people. It cuts a diagonal path through parts of what are today Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. In the late 1700s and early 1800s this footpath became a heavily traveled thoroughfare on the American frontier.
Now the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile-long National Park highway, connects Natchez, Mississippi with Nashville, Tennessee. Amazingly, several stretches of the old trace, some which have been worn many feet into the ground, can still be seen at spots beside the newer Parkway. One of the best places to see - and walk - a portion of the old trace is just north of the town of Port Gibson, as shown in these photographs. The spot is at milepost #41.5, where you will find a parking area and an interpretative exhibit.
The hike here is short in distance, but with imagination it can carry you back in time for centuries - even millennia. Karen and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk here on a cool but pleasant late December morning. Along this sunken trace it seems we sensed the lingering spirits of those who had trod this way before.
Windsor Plantation in Claiborne County was one of the most magnificnet antebellum mansions to survive the War Between the States. But what the War did not do, was accomplished by a careless smoker in 1890. Thirty-five years after the War ended, on February 17, 1890, Windsor burned to the ground. All that was left were a few pieces of china, 23 ghostly columns and some of the wrought iron balustrade. Originally there were 29 columns, standing 45-feet tall.
Windsor was built by Smith Coffee Daniell II, from 1859-1861. The mansion had 25 rooms and 25 fireplaces on four stories.. Attic tanks supplied water for the baths in a day when indoor plumbing was a novelty. In the basement was a schoolroom, a dairy and supply rooms.
The War Between the States broke out about the time the mansion was completed and the observatory on the roof was used to signal Confederate troops about Union advances. The building survived the War in part because Union troops used it as a hospital after they occupied the area.
Several films have used these dramatic columns as a backdrop. These include Raintree Country, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
The ruins are on County Road #18, about twelve miles south of Windsor. There is a small parking area and when we were there no one else was around. There is an interpretative marker which helps tell the story. The ruins are always open and admission is free. There are no visitor facilities, other than a small parking lot. The site is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.