Meriwether Lewis National Monument Things to Do
Meriwether Lewis is buried in Pioneer Cemetery. His large monument dominates this small, peaceful lawn. Around his grave are buried 120 others in graves that date from the early 1800s to 1925. A surprisingly large number of the stones have the word "infant" rather than a name. All of the original stones were replaced with small flat stones by the National Park Service.
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Shortly after Meriwether Lewis returned from the two year Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean, he was appointed as the governor of the Louisiana Territory. Lewis struggled with the stress of the job, unpaid bills, and numerous political enemies. In October 1809 he decided to travel to Washington DC to speak directly with President James Madison. He decided to take the difficult overland route via the Natchez-Trace, despite his declining health. With rain falling, he chose to spend the night of October 10th at the house of John Grinder, who operated a travelers' inn about 75 miles south of Nashville. Sometime during the night, two gun shots rang out and by sunrise Meriwether Lewis was dead, probably suicide, but possibly murder. He was buried near the cabin at the Pioneers Cemetery.
Today all that remains of the original Grinder house is a small stone square that was probably a fireplace. This foundation is marked by a simple white sign. Nearby is a replica of the Grinder House with a handful of maps and photos documenting Meriwether Lewis' life.
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The Gordon House, near the northern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, was constructed in 1818 as the home of Captain John Gordon. Born in Virginia, Gordon gained his fame as an Indian fighter in Tennessee. Gordon acquired some 640 acres of land on this site after negotiating a truce with the local Chickasaw Indian chief. While the house was completed in 1818, Gordon died just a year later. Gordon and his family operated a ferry over the nearby Duck River; the ferry ran for almost 100 years.
This is one of the few remaining structures from the peak era of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
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