• Cherie Claire

Traveling the Natchez Trace


Like my character Viola Valentine, I'm a travel writer. And also like Viola, the Deep South is my specialty.

Last summer I had the pleasure of traveling the Natchez Trace from Tupelo, Miss., to Natchez, the quaint antebellum city at the end of the 444-mile historic highway. I was driving through for inspiration of my latest Viola Valentine mystery, "Trace of a Ghost." Viola takes a trek down the Natchez Trace and traveling with her is an adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel writer who’s not what he seems. In the end, it’s a showdown between good and evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final undoing.

The Natchez Trace dates back centuries and visitors may admire this history through Native American mounds, the camps where travelers rested in their journeys and abandoned towns such as Rocky Springs, Miss. There's also the boardwalk through a cypress swamp outside Jackson, the Ross Barnett Reservoir, numerous places to camp and hike and spots where the old trace is still visible, the mud walls rising high above what used to be the roadway.

All of the sites in "Trace of a Ghost" actually exist. The only spot I took liberties with is Witches Dance, located near Tupelo and reportedly a place where witches danced in circles where later grass refused to grow. In my book, I offered an alternate story on how those circles came to be, but you'll have to read the book to find out.

The Natchez Trace remains one of my most favorite journeys to take in the Deep South and I highly recommend that you try it as well. For information on this historic highway that's operated by the National Park Service, click here.

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