Natchez Trace and vicinity: Central Mississippi

image-014.jpg Our journey down historic Natchez Trace Parkway included a fun stop at historic French Camp, MS.  We took a break from driving the Parkway to look over the Visitor Center and Log Cabin Gift shop.  There’s a sorghum mill set up to show how sorghum was processed for use.  A boardwalk allows visitors to walk past Colonel James Drane’s Antebellum House and another historic house then down and around a blacksmith shop.  One of the buildings on the walk houses the Carriage used by the Last Chief of the Choctaw Nation east of the Mississippi to go to Washington DC to meet with Andrew Jackson concerning the Indian People.

We continued our drive down the Trace and to the state capitol of Mississippi, Jackson. The state park we’ve stayed in is named for the same Louis LeFleur we learned about at French Camp: LeFleur’s Bluff State Park which is wonderfully located in the city but feels as though it is out in the country. We took advantage of being so well located in the state capitol to visit some of the nearby museums.

image-007.jpg Our visit to the Old Capitol gave us a glimpse of Mississippi history. The building has been restored to it’s original beauty and is a wonderful place to learn about Mississippi government. We started with an orientation film that tells the history of the building itself. We then followed the self guided tour starting with the Keeper of the Capitol’s room. In the early days this was woman who was responsible for opening and closing the building. There are interactive exhibits through out the building. We enjoyed seeing the restored House Gallery and Senate Chamber. This is great place to see how Mississippi government interacts.

image.jpg The Museum of Natural Science was fun and would be even more enjoyable with children. There is a park entrance fee as well as museum fee but the price is still quite low. Entering the exhibit hall we saw the bones of extinct species of sea life and land animals. There are exhibits of endangered species of Mississippi as well as local waterfowl and wildlife. I enjoyed the aquatic habitats housing native fish, reptiles, and other water creatures. The aquariums are interesting and a greenhouse with a tank provides a home for a variety of alligators, turtles and fish. There’s a special exhibit on reptiles which I found both enticing and creepy with it’s many poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes. I especially enjoyed seeing the Gila monster. For those with preschoolers there’s a hands-on room where small children can climb a tree, play with puppets, visit animal habitats, and listen to stories. There is walk way around the building lots of interesting plantlife. For more about this museum go to http://www.msnaturalscience.org/

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