- 101.1 miles (162 km)
- Two hours to drive the Byway.
Skirting the Mississippi River in the extreme southwest corner of the state, the Lower Mississippi Great River Road covers some of the most historically important terrain in the country. Covering over a thousand years of history from Native American civilizations to remnants of the Antebellum South to Civil War-torn battlefields and ruins, the Byway takes you to landmarks which represent the nation-shaping events that transpired along the vital shores of the Mississippi.
Abraham Lincoln said of Vicksburg, "We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg." When the Southern States seceded, they closed off the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and brought commercial progress to a standstill. One of the most important military actions in the war, the ensuing campaign for Vicksburg in 1863 included battles on land and sea and ended with a brutal siege. Visit Vicksburg Military Park and walk the hallowed battlefield grounds and the largest Civil War cemetery in the country. Examine the extensive collection of monuments by artists of the day. Stop in at Grand Gulf State Park and walk among the headstones of fallen soldiers and imagine the cacophony of mortar fire that filled the sky during that crucial naval battle.
After the war, the area covered by the Lower Mississippi Great River Road continued to play a key role in the progress of the United States. Stroll the grounds of the first institute of higher learning in Mississippi. Jefferson College boasts a restored kitchen, dining room, and dorms, along with some original artifacts used by the students at the school. The 1960s Civil Rights Movement brought the public eye to Mississippi once again. Tour the Claiborne County Courthouse, a major focal point during the movement. One of the first buildings in the area, the courthouse was originally constructed in 1845. Now remodeled and enlarged, it still serves as a prime architectural example of the Greek Revival Movement.
Southeastern Mississippi claims a variety of culturally important locations as well. From some of the earliest Protestant churches in the nation to in-depth exhibits and museums telling the story of the Natchez Indians, your trip down the Byway immerses you in the lives of the area's earlier occupants. As you travel this magnificent 100-mile corridor, breathe in the culture and history that exists everywhere around you and leave with a newfound respect for those who trod the land before you.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Casey Jones Museum State Park (MS)
Shortly after midnight on April 30, 1900, the "Cannonball" leftMemphis, Tennessee with Jonathan Luther "Casey" Jones at thethrottle. Trying to make up time in the run from Memphis to Canton,Mississippi, Jones had just ran through a stop signal when afreight train came into view crossing the track in front of the"Cannonball." Realizing that a crash was inevitable, Jones orderedhis fireman to jump clear just before the "Cannonball" rammed intofour cars of the freight train. Jones was killed in the crash.
From Highway 61 take Interstate 20 heading east to Jackson. From Jackson take Interstate 55 and head north to the State Park.
Claiborne County Courthouse (MS)
The Claiborne County Courthouse, located off US Highway 61 on Market Street in downtown Port Gibson, is a greatly remodeled and enlarged version of a Greek Revival building constructed in 1845. The courthouse served as a focal point during the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s in Claiborne County.
This historic property sits prominently at the northern end of Market Street, one block off of US Highway 61.
Clark Creek Natural Area (MS)
Hike this scenic/historic area. Comprising more than 700 acres, it is highlighted by some 50 waterfalls, ranging in size with 10 that are more than 30 feet in height. Creation and protection of this fabulous area came about in 1978. Clark Creek is a small channel that extends from the Mississippi River into the bluff land to the East. The area known locally as the Tunica Hills is part of Clark Creek. This area was once inhabited by the Tunica Indians.
Head 13 miles west of Woodville Hwy 61 off Highway, 24 at the Pond Community.
Coca-Cola Museum (MS)
Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This site is important because Coke has become a part of American Culture, and has been a part of the culture here for more than one hundred years. Beidenharn Candy Company, where Coca-Cola was first bottled and sold, is located on Washington Street. The Coca-Cola Museum is listed on theNational Register of Historic Places.
Off of Hwy 61 take exit #1A/Washington St. onto Washington St. (US 80) toward Downtown/Vicksburg - go 3.4 miles. Arrive at 1107 Washington St, Vicksburg, on the right.
The Grand Gulf Military Park was officially opened in 1962, and is dedicated to preserving the memory of both the town and the battle that occurred there. This 400 acre landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes the Grand Gulf Cemetery, a museum, recreational areas, an observation tower, and several restored buildings dating back to Grand Gulf's heyday.
Grand Gulf Military Park is accessed by US Highway 61, three miles north of Port Gibson.
The 128-acre Grand Village site features a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house, and three ceremonial mounds. After three major archaeological excavations, no more digging investigations are planned for the site. The unexcavated areas of the site will be preserved intact,representing a sort of "time capsule" from the Natchez Indians' past.
In Natchez, turn off of US 61, known as Seargent S. Prentiss Drive within the city limits, at Jefferson Davis Blvd just south of Natchez Regional Medical Center. Proceed on, Jefferson Davis Boulevard to the entrance gate of the Grand Village located approximately 0.1 mile on the right.
Historic Jefferson College (MS)
At Historic Jefferson College, the first educational institution of higher learning in Mississippi, visitors can tour a restored dormitory room, a student dining room, kitchen buildings, and other historical sites. At the visitor center on the grounds of Jefferson College, there are exhibits of recovered artifacts, such as bits of dinnerware, shoes, photographs, documents, and school uniforms.
From US 61 in Washington, Mississippi (6mi north of Natchez), turn onto North Street. The entrance to Historic Jefferson College is almost directly across from the end of, North Street.
Homochitto National Forest (MS)
The Homochitto purchase unit was established in 1936 as the first National Forest in Mississippi. The Forest was named for the Homochitto River, an Indian name for Big Red River. France, England, Spain, and the United States strongly influenced the area of land around what is now the Homochitto National Forest. It operated as a single district until 1952, then was divided into two Ranger Districts, the Bude and the Homochitto.
The Forest, consisting of approximately 189,000 acres, hosts a number of resources. The Homochitto is one of the leading timber-producing National Forests in the South. For nearly 50 years, exploration for oil and gas has taken place on this Forest. About 86 percent of the producing wells on National Forest land in Mississippi come from the Homochitto.
Natchez National Historical Park, Melrose (MS)
Melrose is one of the best preserved and most significanthistoric sites in the entire South. The excellent preservation of the Melrose estate along with a rich collection of original items, including letters, dairies, clothing, furniture and other items belonging to the builders, make it a unique experience.
Natchez Visitor Reception Center (MS)
The Natchez Visitor Reception Center stands on the bluffoverlooking the Mississippi River. Only 3/10 mile from the heart of the historic downtown district of Natchez, it allows the visitor easy access from Hwy 61. The visitor center offers the information services of the National Park Service, the State of Mississippi, and the City of Natchez.
Exit US Hwy 61 in Natchez to US Hwy 84 West toward the Mississippi River Bridge. The Natchez Visitor Center is located on the right at the intersection of Hwy 84 West and Canal Street.