While the state just celebrated its bicentennial, the Mississippi story started long ago, as long as 12,000 years ago when it’s believed buffalo “traced out” the trail that is now the Natchez Trace Parkway. Since then, the Mississippi story has been rich with events of historic and cultural significance. Landmarks and other icons of our heritage remain throughout the state, allowing visitors to revisit our storied past.
MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI MUSIC FESTIVAL, GREENVILLE
At the time the Romans were building the Coliseum in Rome, ancient Native American societies were building sacred structures in Mississippi that remain today in the form of massive earthen mounds, each telling a part of our state’s very early past. Among the largest and oldest in the country, Mississippi’s Indian mounds form the Mississippi Mound Trail, stretching north to south across the state and concentrated along the Highway 61 corridor.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic highway stretching from the bluffs of Natchez, northeast through the Pines and Hills Regions. A roadway steeped in historic significance, the Natchez Trace was first established as a trade route by prehistoric Native American civilizations and later used by the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez.
As you follow the trail across the Delta, stop by Winterville Mounds, a public site outside of Greenville featuring 12 prehistoric mounds, two plazas and a museum
The state-of-the-art museums share the stories of our past through artifacts and documents from the state archives, including a rare 1818 twenty-Star US Flag, an original Bowie knife and prehistoric Native American artifacts.
How do you celebrate 200 years of statehood? Mississippi celebrated its bicentennial with the opening of not one, but two state-of-the-art museums. The Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum were opened in late 2017 as the capstone event following a series of epic bicentennial events and celebrations.
The museum openings were an event worthy of the bicentennial occasion. Each museum showcases the state’s rich and complex history, and are joined by the “Hall of History,” a cathedral-like space linking the two museums, representing the inherent connection between our state’s history and the struggle for racial equality.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is the nation’s first state-operated civil rights museum. This museum focuses on the period between 1945-1976, when Mississippi was ground zero for the nationwide Civil Rights Movement. The museum captures the movement’s heart- breaks, tragedies, turning points and symbolic victories in an inspiring tribute to everyone involved in the struggle for equality.
After 200 years as a state, Mississippi has commemorated its bicentennial with two museums, preserving the stories and lessons of our past with the hope of inspiring a better future for Mississippi and beyond.
Less than half a century after Mississippi joined the Union, the Civil War began. The war arrived in Mississippi in April of 1862 when Union armies moved south from Tennessee to the northwest Mississippi town of Corinth, with the goal of continuing west to gain control of the Mississippi River. Vicksburg fell in 1863, followed by two more years of war and devastation in the state.
Mississippi was the site of many key battles, turning points and acts of heroism during the Civil War. Below you will find a comprehensive list of the Civil War sites across the state open to visitors.
Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center | 662.287.9273 Go where the Civil War began in Mississippi.
Historic Corinth Walking & Driving Tour | Corinth Area CVB | 662.287.8300
See the homes of the generals as Corinth changed hands in 1862 and again in 1864. Visit Civil War earthworks.
∙Battle of Shiloh: April 6-7, 1862
∙Siege of Corinth: April 29-30, 1862
∙Battle of Iuka: September 19, 1862
∙Battle of Corinth: October 3-4, 1862
Marshall County Historical Museum | 662.252.3669
Visit the sites of the cavalry raid that brought Grant’s first attempt on Vicksburg to an inglorious end.
∙Van Dorn Raid & Grant’s Mississippi Central Railroad Campaign: November 2-December 20, 1862
Baldwyn & Tupelo
Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield Site | 662.680.4025
Walk the grounds of General Bedford Forrest’s astounding victory fought in the summer of 1864 and learn of the valor of the US African American troops.
∙Battle of Brice’s Crossroads: June 10, 1864
∙The Battle of Tupelo: July 14-15, 1864
Okolona Chamber of Commerce | 662.447.5913
Visit a cemetery where Confederate dead were interred after the bloody Battle of Shiloh. See where Forrest’s outnumbered cavalry corps routed Sooy Smith’s federals in a running gunfight.
∙Battle of Okolona: February 22, 1864
Museum of the Mississippi Delta | 662.453.0925
Gaze over the turbid waters of the Tallahatchie River, where Grant’s Union invasion armada was repulsed.
∙Yazoo Pass Expedition: February 3-April 10, 1863
Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University | 662.325.4552
See the vast collection of Grant’s papers and memorabilia.
General Stephen D. Lee’s Home | Visit Columbus 662.329.1191
Stand under the magnolias “where flowers healed the nation” on April 25, 1866, during the precursor of Memorial Day.
The Oaks House Museum | 601.353.9339
Learn about the lives of Jackson’s 19th century civilians.
Old Capitol Museum | 601.576.6920
Experience the chambers where Mississippi’s lawmakers voted for secession from the Union in 1861.
Raymond Military Park | 601.857.8041
See the 25 cannons that boomed over a Civil War battlefield. Ponder the past in the historic cemetery and town.
∙Battle of Raymond: May 12, 1863
Vicksburg National Military Park | 601.636.0583
Marvel at the battlefield vistas and the monuments.
Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau | 601.636.9421
Visit antebellum homes, museums and pick up a free Vicksburg commemorative art book.
∙Siege of Vicksburg: May 19-July 4, 1863
Port Gibson & Grand Gulf
Grand Gulf Military Park | 601.437.5911
Visit the river battle and museum, fortifications and antebellum structures.
∙Battle of Port Gibson: May 1, 1863
∙Battle of Grand Gulf: April 29, 1863
Port Gibson Chamber of Commerce | 601.437.4351
See the awe-inspiring Ruins of Windsor Plantation, along with antebellum churches and town homes.
Merrehope Home | 601.483.8439
See the home that survived Sherman’s wrath.
∙Meridian Expedition: February 3-20, 1864
Natchez CVB | 800.647.6724
Experience the mansions and the splendor of the Old South.
Beauvoir - The Jefferson Davis Home & Presidential Library | 228.388.4400
Visit the Confederate president’s last home.
Ship Island Excursions | 228.864.1014
Relax and take a daylong cruise to a Gulf barrier island fort.
Home to many Civil Rights leaders and activists, Mississippi was the site of significant developments in the Civil Rights Movement.
Jackson’s former Greyhound Bus Station was the scene of several historic arrests in 1961, when Freedom Riders challenged segregation in Jackson’s bus and train stations. Also in the capital city is the home of prominent activist and NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers, who worked to overturn segregation and enact social justice but was murdered by a segregationist outside his home. In Northwest Jackson, the Medgar Evers Library hosts the Medgar Evers Homecoming each summer.
In the tiny Delta town of Money, a condemned storefront is all that remains of Bryant’s Grocery, where Emmett Till allegedly whistled at the white co-owner of the store. The owner’s husband later killed 14-year-old Till, an event widely recognized as sparking the American Civil Rights movement.
In nearby Ruleville is the grave site of Fannie Lou Hamer, an influential voting rights activist and leader in the Civil Rights movement that was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer.
James Meredith entered the university in 1962 as the first African American student, an event memorialized by the Civil Rights Monument in Oxford.
The events surrounding integration at the University of Mississippi are considered some of the most significant in the Civil Rights struggle.
Just 30 miles north in Holly Springs is Rust College, one of the oldest historically black colleges in the nation.
The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs is housed in the historic Spires Bolling Home, the birthplace of the museum’s namesake, Ida B. Wells. Wells was a women’s rights activists, one of the founders of the NAACP and had a commemorative US postage stamp issued in her honor.
These civil rights leaders and others are recognized on the Mississippi Freedom Trail, a major cultural initiative design- ed to commemorate the state’s civil rights heritage.
Antebellum homes are iconic for their style and architecture. Nowhere in the American South will you find more well-preserved and opulent antebellum homes than in Mississippi. These homes are open for tours to impress visitors with their scale and grace that continue to inspire…
Any history buff will know the name Jefferson Davis. Tour the coastal plantation Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, where his wife’s rose garden continues to bloom.
Natchez is the oldest permanent settlement along the Mississippi River, so it’s no surprise to find such an abundance of historic homes lining the charming city streets. In fact, Natchez has over 1,000 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and over a dozen homes designated as National Historic Landmarks.
One such landmark is Longwood, the unfinished dream home of Dr. Haller Nutt that remains incomplete as construction halted at the onset of the Civil War. While many historic Natchez homes were built for the planter elite, two homes, the Evans-Bontura House and the William Johnson House were built pre-war by free African American men. Both homes now commemorate the journey and lives of free African Americans during the antebellum period.
While many historic Natchez homes were built for the planter elite, two homes, the Evans-Bontura House and the William Johnson House were built pre-war by free African American men. Both homes now commemorate the journey and lives of free African Americans during the antebellum period.
At the center of the capital city is the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, the second oldest and continuously occupied governor’s residence in the country. Though still in use today, the public section of the mansion is open for tours. Along the banks of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg offers a glimpse into the grandeur of the Old South with iconic historic homes such as the McNutt House, the second-oldest home in the Historic Downtown District and residence of Alexander G. McNutt, Mississippi’s twelfth governor.
Cedar Grove Mansion Inn is a magnificent 1840 Greek Revival mansion overlooking the Mississippi River and surrounded by formal gardens, gazebos, fountains and courtyards.
Pilgrimages are an annual spring tradition in Mississippi that started in 1932 with the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage. This month-long pilgrimage offers tours of Natchez’s opulent historic homes including private residences not regularly open to the public.
The Columbus Spring Pilgrimage first started as a tour of the quaint town’s antebellum homes and has expanded to a 10-day celebration of Southern history, architecture and culture complete with period costumes. With over 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, Aberdeen has one of the largest inventories of 19th century architecture in the state, making the Aberdeen Pilgrimage an anticipated annual event. During the Pilgrimage, visit the Old Aberdeen Cemetery for a ghostly tour of the cemetery highlighting the fascinating stories of Aberdeen’s early residents. In Holly Springs, a traditional Southern style dinner ends the Holly Springs Pilgrimage, a weekend of guided tours through the historic homes, churches and museums in Holly Springs. The Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage features true coastal treasures, the elegant homes, gardens and historic landmarks found along the Gulf Coast from Pascagoula to Diamondhead.
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