'Poor Man's' Watch Forum
Road Trip! part 2
Posted By: Ricky Lee McBroom
Date: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, at 12:50 p.m.
After some reflection, we decided to head south, take in Vicksburg and Natchez. Of course the logical route was The Blues Highway, which meant that we'd also continue the 'Blues Pilgrimage' aspect of our trip. Since one of the main stops today would be Rolling Fork, the sort-of birthplace of Muddy Waters, we switched the MP3 player from vintage acoustic blues (the previous day's soundtrack) to electric blues.
First, though, we backtracked to a spot we'd passed by on the previous day:
And why not, since Leland was where we picked up 61, and the detour was less than 2 miles. Very nice exhibit, too, and highly recommended. Alas, the Blues Museum was closed, so we hit the road. This section of 61 is ruler-straight and smooth, so I set the ST to Warp Two, and the 26 miles to our first main stop flashed by in a mere 15 minutes:
Fascinating story behind the name. According to legend, back in the mid 1800's there was a big cat living in the area who developed a taste for human flesh. (Yeah, such beasts really did reside in Mississippi, back then.) The local residents, tired of seeing their population reduced by dint of becoming cat food, broke out the guns and dogs and launched a full-scale search and destroy mission. They succeeded in cornering the killer cat in a canebrake and, after the advance force they sent in failed to return, decided there was only one course of action left: they took their torches and fired the canebrake. Legend says that everyone who heard the panther's cry as it burned to death were haunted by it to their graves. Indeed, it became such a defining part of their culture that they named their town after the event. Not coincidentally, my favorite blues-fusion artist named his band for the event. (Some say the town/plantation, but I know for a fact that's wrong, 'cause Tav personally told me that 'twas the unforgettable sound of that panther being burned alive that he was conjurring in naming the band.)
Panther Burn is, now, just a wide spot in the road. The building on the right in the first photo, a former 'planter's house', then a church, is now vacant. Likewise the entire south side, though quite well-kept, is vacant:
The north, while you couldn't tell from the photo, still shows some signs of life:
The old cotton gin, in the center, is run as a kind of co-op store. And, unseen behind the trees, is the proprieter's residence. An eerie, other-worldy place. As we sat and chilled in the silence, I swear that, across the void of time, I heard that panther's death cry. Or maybe it was the screaming of the dry wheel bearings in the '78 Ford that screeched it's way past. I dunno. I fear the latter, but like to think it was the former.
'twas a mere 13.3 miles to the next stop, and since I cued some top-notch travelin' music, Tav's "She's A Bad Motorcycle", we covered that at Warp Six.
Alas, Rolling Fork was a major, major disappointment. Note to Junior: they STILL haven't put up that sign. As far as I can see, they haven't acknowledged Muddy in any way. So, piss on you, Rolling Fork, Mississippi! Though I took quite a number of photos, I ain't postin' them.
The next stop, Vicksburg. I'm happy to say that there was no disappointment here. Vicksburg's a beautiful city!
The color of that big crepe myrtle worked perfect with the ST's burgundy, I thought..
The highlight though, for Pam, was the Coca-Cola Museum:
She's a die-hard Coke woman (don't even utter the word 'Pepsi' in her presence! ), so 'twas right up her alley.
Vicksburg is on a bluff, and you'll find several of these facing the river:
Nice view, too, though not as good (in my opinion) as the next stop, Natchez. The topography of the land 'tween Vicksburg and Natchez, rolling wooded hills, makes for a great ride, too. Very welcome after the billiard-table flatness of the first leg. After a stop in Port Gibson ("Too beautiful to burn" according to Ulysses S. Grant), we reached our final destination for the day:
Stunning view from atop the bluff at Natchez! That's looking North. The view to the south:
..showing the historic 'Natchez Under The Hill' district.
Alas, the day was cloudy, so the viewing was not the best. Indeed, we encountered a few sprinkles of rain, but not enough to dampen our spirits. We toured the town for a couple of hours, chatted with some locals, had a liesurely dinner, then retired to the Econo-Lodge for some Z's. A great day!
Messages In This Thread
Too true! I'm not a Mississippi native, so perhaps that's why it's still fresh for me, even though I've lived here since 1990.
Thanks for the invite! We actually considered continuing on to the gulf. If we'd had just one more day, we'd have done so!
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