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Travelogues

Interested in learning more about the history and heritage of the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, or in getting additional ideas for places to visit while you're in the region? Explore our heritage area further through these enticing travelogues:

Explore by Interest, with our African American, Architecture, Arts and Civil War narratives. 

Explore by Community -- Columbus, Corinth, Grenada, Hernando & Southaven, Holly Springs, Oxford, Starkville and Tupelo. And there's more...

More Great TraveloguesElvis, Interstate 55, Natchez Trace, Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, Tri Lakes and William Faulkner.



King and Country: Okolona, Pontotoc, Tupelo, Baldwyn, Booneville

Elvis Presley BirthplaceConquistadors came but couldn't conquer, and a paradise not taken at gunpoint was snatched finally with the stroke of a pen… A cavalry leader won his reputation in a pair of bloody and dramatic battles that left more than 1,000 dead, their bodies at rest in the nation's "Little Arlington."  Yet that leader's victories could do nothing to change the course of a losing cause…

And then, at last, in the midst of a crushing Depression, on a January morning in a tiny shotgun house, history was not merely made but changed forever in the birth of two babies:  one stillborn and the other destined to live on and on in the radical changes he brought to the culture.  On that cold morning the mother, Gladys, couldn't know this.  She was shaken; the rest of the world will never be the same.
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Lion's Den: Water Valley, Taylor, Oxford, Sardis Lake, New Albany, Ripley

University of Mississippi at OxfordA literary lion, winner of the Nobel… A notorious big game hunter and photographer, who filmed the very first motion pictures of African wildlife… A courageous scholar and leader who stepped into a maelstrom and faced down a violent mob to claim equal rights for all. A legendary politician shot to death by his own business partner in the middle of town; another who gave a passionate and eloquent eulogy for a former enemy to lay to rest a generation of hatred and bitterness.

That's how people are here in Faulkner Country: bigger, braver, striding across the pages of fiction or straight into the annals of history, like Casey Jones barreling his train through here on his way to immortality. 
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Ride through history on the Natchez Trace

The Natchez TraceIf you had taken a trip down the Natchez Trace when it first opened, you might have been a bit frustrated. Those mastodons were real road hogs. In those days, 7,000 or so years ago, between the mastodons and the giant bison pounding out the trail, the passing lane could be a nightmare.  Later, as the game grew smaller, and the Native Americans of pre-history arrived, you'd have needed speed and stealth to just to keep up with the hunt. Later still, a few arrowheads would have stood you in good stead as the tribes formed, Chickasaw and Choctaw among them, and trading along the route picked up.
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Riding the great divide on the Hills Highway

I55A competition? Hills versus Delta. Or a merger? Delta meets Hills.  Signs of the times on Interstate-55.  You've got your map, and now you're on the lookout for the road signs. Something that will tell you Divided Loyalties Up Ahead. Or Sympathies Merged ½ Mile. But the truth is, I-55, the unofficial demarcation between the Mississippi Delta and the Mississippi Hills, is long division that needs no solution. It's a fault line that won't crack-although once you fall into the rhythm of this easy-going road, with your gaze and your thoughts roaming across the verdant landscape, the timelessness may envelop you, with your everyday concerns swallowed against the vanishing point of the horizon.

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Rocking the cradle at the Birthplace

When you're getting ready for a face-to-face meeting with one of the greatest musical artists of the 20th century-the man who created much of what we know as popular culture today-it's not so much what you take with you as what you don't. 

You'll need a few articles of clothing, of course. Nothing fancy (although if you prefer something flashy in honor of the King's latter days-well, that's up to you.) Tunes for the road-plenty to choose from there; Elvis recorded more than 70 albums and sold millions. Throw in a few sundries and then just one more to-do: a quick trip upstairs to the old attic to clear out the cobwebs and all the many preconceptions you've built up over the years about the man born Elvis Aaron Presley.
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Sanctuary: Holly Springs, Michigan City

Walter PlaceFor some it was a haven, for others a beautifully civilized hell… A glittering pawn shuttled between Civil War powers… A bewitching collaborator that held hardened soldiers spellbound… A cavalier host whose act of chivalry in the midst of combat would become an ironic prelude to Total War. Here is where a fleeing Confederate could hide his whole body inside a massive Corinthian column of his mansion… Where for decades a brilliant painter could hide her spectacular body of artistic work, burying her extraordinary talent beneath her position as a pillar of Southern rectitude.

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Tracking the genius in Faulkner Country

Rowan OakYou can't head into the heart of Faulkner Country without a little soul searching first. You have to ask yourself, is this a religious pilgrimage? Or are you hunting for bear?

If you want to simply pay your respects one of the greatest literary geniuses the world has ever produced, then it's probably best to start in Oxford at the shrines — Rowan Oak, of course, and the J.D. Williams Library, where Faulkner's Nobel enjoys pride of place wrapped in a swath of regal purple. If, however, you're foolhardy enough to think you can track the source of this great genius, run it to ground — if, in short, you're coming to hunt for bear — well, then, you already know that like all the very best Faulknerian quests, yours is doomed.

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Trail Blazers: Kosciusko, French Camp, Starkville, West Point

Louis LefleurOne makes best-sellers, one creates best sellers. One defied the bigotry and violent hatred of a region to pave the way for education and opportunity for all. Others hacked a trail through the woods, founded a school for women, then created not just a chance to learn but a life's path for at-risk children. Some are saving the world's oceans, others are creating new worlds of artificial intelligence. And one transformed the bitter fruit of an impossibly sad and lonely childhood into an intoxicating brand of blues.

These trail blazers saw a path where others saw only impenetrable wilderness and insurmountable odds. They embraced the challenge of opening the road, accepted the cost, overcame the hardships.  And at the end of it, when others might have stopped, rested and said, "I have arrived," these pioneers simply "lit out" in new directions, their energy undiminished.

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