January 15, 2013 10:50:10 AM
GREENVILLE -- U.S. Highway 82, which runs from the Mississippi River at the Arkansas line across North Mississippi to the Alabama line, has been named the state's first cultural highway.
Officials tell the Delta Democrat Times that the designation will highlight the tourist attractions along the 181 miles of highway through eight Mississippi counties. It includes the cities of Greenville, Greenwood, Leland, Indianola, Winona, Starkville and Columbus.
"Cultural heritage tourism is extremely important to Mississippi, and the concept of heritage highways gives the tourists a variety of cultural heritage sites to visit," said Sarah McCullough, program manager of Cultural and Heritage Development for the Mississippi Development Authority's Division of Tourism.
State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, who is chairwoman of the Senate Tourism Committee, says Highway 82 is "tourist worthy."
"We want people to come to Mississippi and stay here longer, and heritage tourists tend to bring money, and that helps with economic development," Chassaniol said.
McCullough said Highway 82 was the first road selected because of the recent centennial of writer Tennessee William, who was born in Columbus on March 26, 1911.
"It links his birthplace of Columbus to Greenville, since it's known for its high concentration of writers that it has produced," she said. "There will be markers placed along Highway 82 marking all the cultural heritage sites."
McCullough said more sites will be added as more people become aware of the project.
Chassaniol said tourists appreciate when the state helps identify key locations.
"We do hospitality so well, and people want to come see us, and hopefully, this project will help attract people to our state," she said.