Treasured traditions are nationally recognized in three Mississippi areas.

 

 

Mississippi’s rich resources run far deeper than the Delta soil. Here, the raw materials of natural vistas, cultural vibrancy and historical landmarks come together to create a trove of immeasurable riches, which is why the United States Congress has designated three sections of the state as National Heritage Areas. These picturesque places help strengthen the fabric of our country. Their preservation is an ongoing passion for Mississippians.

 

-------------------------------------- The Gulf Coast -------------------------------------- American history would be much different without the watershed moments in the six counties making up Mississippi’s Gulf Coast area. It all starts with the water itself, and the lush coastal landscape that has drawn newcomers to this area for centuries. French explorers built a fort here in the 1600s and made a colonial capital of the city of Biloxi, now recognized as one of the oldest continuously occupied communities in the United States. Britain and Spain also planted flags on the Coast before American statehood. Migrants have come from all corners of the globe to find livelihoods on fishing boats, in forests and in other distinctly coastal pursuits. Resource-rich inland waterways meet the Gulf of Mexico in this area, giving life to terrain teeming with tall pines, swaying marsh grasses and fragrant magnolias. This diverse topography creates outstanding recreational opportunities, from hiking and hunting to canoeing and camping. Keeping this area’s natural beauty intact for human residents and visitors—and the type with fur and feathers—is one of the main goals of the region’s leaders. Nationally significant historic structures—including Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ home Beauvoir, the island stronghold Fort Massachusetts and the 1848 Biloxi Lighthouse—still stand strong. Cultural gems include the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum. For an out-of-this-world experience, visitors can also tour NASA’s Stennis Space Center, where rocket propulsion tests are conducted in preparation for space missions. The Space Center’s official visitor center, Infinity Science Center, is a must-see museum, with interactive exhibits, a flight simulator and frequent special events. ----------------------------------------- The Delta ------------------------------------------- Music may be its best-known export, but the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, encompassing 18 counties, is also lauded for contributions to culinary, religious, literary and artistic arenas. The struggles of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement were felt deeply here, but today, they are soothed by recognition of the common bonds linking every son and daughter. The connection often comes through creativity, and many great writers and artists found inspiration here. Even Muppets® creator Jim Henson hailed from the Delta. His museum draws Kermit the Frog fans from around the world. History, literature and the arts are held in high esteem, but you can do a little dancing, too, as you pass through. This is where the blues was born, where roots of rock ’n’ roll run deep, and where gospel songs still spill from country churches. Tap into the musical revelry with visits to the Delta Blues Museum, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretative Center, and the new Grammy Museum® Mississippi. You can’t miss the Mississippi Blues Trail, marking spots where the genre’s greatest performers lived and died. Regional leaders are using the support harnessed by the National Heritage Area designation to tell the Delta’s story, to build a network of partners, and to preserve both the physical places and unique culture found here. ---------------- The Hills ---------------- When you learn 19 full counties and parts of 11 others make up the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, you begin to get a sense of the scope of this area’s importance. Spread across the northeast portion of the state, these hills were brought to life by a confluence of Appalachian and Delta cultures centuries ago. Natives of this region include Elvis Presley and William Faulkner—names and personalities bigger than any geographical boundary. Sharing their stories and those of other significant residents, including civil rights pioneers James Meredith and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, is a mission of National Heritage Area officials. Well-preserved landmarks give new dimension to the lives of these citizens. The history of the Hills Region began long before these famous figures were born. Many centuries ago, Native Americans called this landscape home and built sacred mounds still standing. Later, Civil War battles were fought here and towns were torn apart, only to reemerge resilient. The Natchez Trace Parkway stretches out more than 444 miles through three states. The roadway’s headquarters and visitor center are located in Tupelo. Offshoots of hiking trails take visitors into pristine forests which still look much like they did centuries ago. Nature’s bounty is also the star attraction at places like the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and Tishomingo State Park.
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