Living History

IMG_5999The best introduction to history is to experience it. The Association supports the National Park Service living history program, and it is developing a new program, through which it often partners with the parkway to bring history to life. Throughout the year, historic sites such as the Gordon House, Colbert’s Ferry, Mount Locust and Grinder’s Stand come to life with the sights and sounds of the period when the Natchez Trace and Natchez Road were important transportation corridors. The National Park Service began a living history program on the parkway in the 1970’s. The annual Meriwether Lewis Arts and Crafts Festival, which includes living history IMG_0987demonstrations, is approaching its 40th year. Encampments at Mount Locust have focused on portrayals of life in the southern Mississippi area along the Natchez Trace. Regular living history events are scheduled at headquarters .


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The association is developing a new living history program to provide additional living history events along the parkway. In 2012, we entered into a partnership with the National Park Service and the 7th U.S. Living History Association to begin a four- year commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Those events have prevented education stations to  a few thousand school children in the three Natchez Trace states.

Many of those school children gave the event their “awesome” stamp of approval.







We are also developing relationships with the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation to present accurate portrayals of their historic homelands. We support the annual Oka Kapasa Festival in Tuscumbia. Each September, they bring together Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and other American Indians to celebrate their American Indian heritage, and the close relationship the Tuscumbia community along the old Natchez Trace developed with the American Indians. Oka-Kapassa-2012-094


An active living history program along the parkway will make history real for younger generations and utilize the rich historic resources that relate to the old road and its communities. To see galleries of some of our past living history events, click on the following links:





After the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, General Andrew Jackson proposed this road as a shorter and improved route for military movements between Nashville and New Orleans. The U.S. War Department authorized Jackson to appoint an engineer and procure equipment in 1816 and Congress appropriated $5,000 to begin construction. The Military Road was built by about 300 American soldiers over a three-year period at a construction cost of $300,000. When completed on May 17, 1820, the new road was 483 miles long and 200 miles shorter than the old Natchez Trace route. Crossing the Tennessee River at Florence, it entered Sheffield (first known as York Bluff) at “Jackson Hollow.” The road then passed near Atlanta and Columbia Avenues as it moved southwest. The Military Road entered Tuscumbia on Dickson Street and passed near this site.The nearby single-pen hewn-log cabin is a vestige of Tuscumbia’s pioneer period. It originally stood on the opposite side of the street and reputedly served as a stagecoach stop on the Military Road. Dickson Street was named for early Tuscumbia settler Michael Dickson. A U. S. Mail line was established and John Donley Sr. of Tuscumbia was given the contract for carrying the mail. Stagecoaches could travel the Military Road in 17 days and stands were built along the way to accommodate travelers. The road became the route over which pioneers poured into northwest Alabama and Mississippi.

NTP Living History Event April 2016 PngJackson's Military Road Marker Reverse Side Photo, Click for full size
 Its the Bicentennial of the building of the road.   We  are trying to assemble a small  group of like minded Living Historians to depict the actual surveying and building of the road. Possible persons needed are:
 -District of Nashville Soldiers from the 1st and 8th infantry
-An artillery detachment who supplied the labor
– Civilians portraying the Dickson family, the first settlers
-Captain H. Young surveyed the route
-Chickasaw guides
Chief Tuscumbia
-Hugh Finley Blacksmith
-David Keller
-Col. James McDonald
– William Russell
-Gen John Coffee
– Ferdinand Sannoner
Plans are for there to be being Living history programs through out the day on Friday April 22, 2016 in Spring park to school groups. Afterwards A period seated dinner , by candlelight, for the Living Historians in a  Homestead of this era with costumed servants.  After the evening meal, perhaps music and dance of the time frame,  then a discussion on how to grow this living history event into  a full blown events  for the upcoming year 2017-20.  On Saturday  April 23, 2016, demonstrations at the log cabin, which is located on the original Military Road, on surveying and public interactions discussing the Military road construction.
Contact Tony Turnbow, Annie Perry, or Lisa Pace at


Expedition Natchez Thurs 020For more information on Natchez Trace Parkway Association Living History, contact

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