NATCHEZ TRACE STATE PARK
Benton, Carroll & Henderson Counties TN


Natchez Trace Resort Park and Forest is located in Henderson, Carroll and Bention Counties in West Tennessee. Natchez Trace State Resort Park is located near Lexington TN and is 100 miles Southwest of Nashville, 55 miles East of Jackson, and 110 miles Northeast of Memphis. Main entrance to the Park is Interstate 40, Exit 116, the Natchez Trace Park exit. Other access roads lead from Lexington, Camden, Parsons and Huntington.

The area in and around Natchez Trace Park was settled during the 1830's by a band of settlers led by J oseph Morris. The Morris family and others of their group left the worn out land of North Carolina piedmont area in 1832 to settle the fertile West Tennessee lands along Birdsong and Maple Creek, which drain to the Northeast and Northwest from the North portion of the park.

This area also gains historical significance from the days of the old Natchez Trace, now the Natchez Trace Parkway. The name Natchez Trace originally applied to an ill-defined series of trails and paths beaten out by the Indians and perhaps the buffalo, several of these trails, though individually unimportant, when joined together lead to a Northeasterly direction from the present day Natchez Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee.

Later, the settlers would travel down the Trace to sell their goods, often on foot, further tramping out and identifying a more definite Trace. The threat of Highwaymen along the old Natchez Trace became so great that returning travelers soon sought alternate routes and one of the more often used was sometimes referred to as the Old Natchez Trace, the Western Natchez Trace, or the Notcha Trace which followed a route in the vicinity of what is now the Natchez Trace State Park.

Evidence of the early days of settlement by the imigrant from North Carolina is present still today. The farming practices which they used on the natural woodland results in the deep, gullied erosion of the park.

During 1935 and 1936 the Resettlement administration under Roosevelts "New Deal PRogram" began a reclamation program in this area. The program ultimately resulted in the purchase of some 42,000 acrea. From 1935 ato 1955 the state of Tennessee leased the land, and later on October 14, 1955, the Federal Government granted a deed and clear title to the state for the development of the Natchez Trace State Park.

Evidence of the early days of settlement by the early imigrants from NC is present still today. The old Shiloh Church, which is located adjacent to the East boudary of the Park (about 1 1/2 miles North of I40), was built during the early days f settlement. The most obvious indication of the settler's life in the area is the mark they left on the landscape. The farming practices which they used on the natural woodland resulted in the deep, gullied erosion of th efine, sandy clary hills of the area such as Fairview Gullies (located 1/2 miles South of I40). Withina span of less than one hundred years the area was depleted tot eh level of the marginal and submarginal lands, incapable of profitable agricultural production.

Information given by the Staff at the Natchez Trace Park

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