After I finally finished up my week in Natchez–back in March!–I headed homeward on the Trace again. After all, it was quiet, calm, beautiful, and hardly any traffic. It is interesting how the same road can look different from a different perspective. I pulled off the road at Owens Creek to stretch my legs. Owens Creek, and the Rocky Springs Trail lead to Rocky Springs–a once populated area.
Rocky springs had people stopping for water before 1800 and shortly after, people began building homes in the area around the spring. Clarion-Ledger, June 13, 1965, p. 69.
Rocky Springs had a post office by the mid 1820s and several hundred population. Proposals were sought to carry mail from the Jackson-Rocky Springs-Port Gibson-Greenville route in 1826. In 1837, money was donated to build a church. By 1840, the area was home to 458 whites and 1,540 enslaved. The 1878-79 yellow fever epidemic killed much of the area population, and the 1907 boll weevil infestation took a toll the area was unable to overcome. The Great Depression of the 1930s contributed to the demise of the small community.
In 1934, Congress passed legislation authorizing the survey of the Natchez Trace, and in 1938, construction was authorized, although total construction was not completed until 2005. In May 2018, portions of the Rocky Springs trail were closed due to hazards in trail erosion and bridge problems.
The trail has more than $250,000 in deferred maintenance needs, and we are working to acquire the needed funding to make those repairs.(Greg Smith, Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail Coordinator, May 18, 2018)
It was still closed in March, 2019. While searching for information on when this portion of the Trace was completed, I ran across Jack D. Elliott, Jr.’s Paving the Trace on Mississippi History Now. Go read it, for a more complete (and accurate) view of the origins of the Trace, and the efforts to develop and promote it. I could not help but nod knowingly when in the section The Prince of Humbug, Elliott wrote,
In the early 1930s, the mercurial Colonel Jim Walton, whose flamboyant rhetoric and disregard for the truth would take the public in thrall, resurrected the Natchez Trace idea.