Around 700 AD the Plaquemine culture settled in a large village with ceremonial mounds near Natchez. Their descendants, the Natchez Indians, were still living there when the French arrived in 1700s. Control passed from the French, to the British, and then to the Spanish. After the Revolutionary War Britain ceded their territories to the US including the city of Natchez which was still controlled by Spain. It wasn’t until 1789 the border disputes were settled and Spanish claims to Natchez were surrendered and the area became part of the Mississippi territory.
In 1860, there were 340 planters in the Natchez region who each owned 250 or more slaves. Cotton was planted on flat, fertile flood plain on the western side of the Mississippi but many of the wealthy plantation owners preferred to live on the bluff in Natchez. The city survived the Civil War with little damage and still has over 500 antebellum era buildings. In 1931 to attract tourists the women of the Natchez Garden Club started showing their houses and gardens. This has become a twice-a-year event and is a major tourist draw.
A historic timeline of Natchez history lines one wall of the visitor center. A special exhibit about the Forks of the Roads slave market was on display during our visit. A short video about Natchez can be viewed – $2.00 fee. The center has all of the usual tourist information and a nice view of the Mississippi River.
The visitor center has RV spaces where parking for 2 nights is permitted. There’s a dump station, fresh water, and a couple of electric outlets – all free! The RV parking area is marked for buses only. Large RVs with towed cars or trucks towing fifth wheels will have to be unhooked to fit in the spaces. The two spaces farthest from the center have working electricity. The dump station is at the northwest end of the lot. The water is on the hill at the southwest end of the lot or near the visitor center ramp. The lot is sloped so leveling is necessary. The center of town is only about 1 mile away so it’s an easy walk.
It’s all uphill trek from the RV parking to the visitor center so wheelchair users may need assistance. The sidewalks and curb cuts in town are often in bad condition and sometimes missing. Visitor Center 31.55408, -91.41314