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Possumhaw: A trace of history


Shannon Bardwell



"Among those that traveled this road were American Indians, traders, soldiers, "Kaintucks," postriders, settlers, slaves, circuit-riding preachers, outlaws and adventurers."  


Donna & Ron,  




Little over a week ago we joined the Bulldog Nation headed to Nashville, Tennessee, for the SEC Tournament. The weather was pleasant, temperatures were mild and the sun drifted in and out amongst the clouds. At Tupelo we entered the Natchez Trace, choosing to meander slowly northward to our destination. We were in no hurry; our tickets awaited us at "Will Call."  


It was a little unnerving to realize how digitally dependent the world is becoming. It took about two hours to get tickets because of our technical ineptness and difficulty making decisions. The ticket request would time-out after about 15 minutes and we'd have to start all over again. Once we made our selection and hit "submit," the confirmation said the tickets would be sent to our phone.  


Well, that was problematic since we'd previously discovered our phone carrier does not work well in Tennessee. Sam ended up calling the venue. He told the young man, who probably could not remember life without a cellphone or even Facebook, receiving our tickets by phone was not reliable. 


The sympathetic fellow assured Sam he would have a paper ticket waiting at the arena and there'd be nothing to worry about.  


So, in Bardwell fashion, we packed our maroon attire and a picnic and headed up the Trace. The Trace extends for 444 miles with the northern terminus just south of Nashville. We started just north of Tupelo at mile marker 260. 


There were no detours along the way nor flooding to hinder travel though the fields were saturated, the creeks ran fast, and a few soft shoulders were rutted up. We passed by Tishomingo State Park and on by Colbert Ferry in Alabama. The Natchez Trace runs through three states from start to finish.  


Names along the Trace include Browns Bottom, Donivan Slough, Buzzard Roost, Cypress Creek, Dogwood Mudhole, Napier Mine, Devil's Backbone and Tobacco Farm. Each name conjures up vivid images of life before cellphones.  


Our stopping place along the Trace is the Wayne County Visitors Center at Collinwood between mile marker 350 and 360. They have pleasant greeters, hot coffee and homemade cookies. Some days they have entertainment, like the day we dropped in. The gentleman and his wife played a few tunes on their dulcimers. When they learned we were from Columbus they commented they once came to Columbus and were featured with Aundrea Self on the "Mid-Morning" show. Then they played a little toe-tapper and ended with a gospel hymn. 


A brochure in the museum said in the 1800s "Kaintucks" floated crops and livestock on wooden flatboats to Natchez or New Orleans where they sold their goods, then sold their boats for lumber and walked or rode horseback back home. 


By the time we finished our trip we had seen several hawks, a dozen deer, two flocks of 30 or so turkeys grazing, then a scattering of three or four more turkeys here and there. None of the creatures seemed to pay us any mind at all.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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