The Natchez Trace

The Natchez Trace is one of the oldest highways in the southeastern United States. Archaeological evidence reveals prehistoric activity along the road, which later became a trail between Chickasaw and Choctaw villages. The Trace served as a postal route between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee. It attained greatest prominence during the era of river navigation by flatboats and keelboats. Because the southern flow of the Mississippi River was extremely strong it was cheaper and easier to sell the boats for lumber at New Orleans and return home on foot.

From New Orleans to Natchez, the Trace ran through fairly well settled areas with relatively little danger; from Natchez to Nashville, its path was through sparsely settled, more dangerous areas. Most boatmen of that period distrusted banks and carried their money in specie (gold or silver coins), making them very attractive targets for robbers who frequented the Trace in its early years. Various outlaw gangs, most notably the Harps and the Murrell Clan, terrorized portions of the Trace and added to the myth of violence which surrounded it.

Each item cited in the following list is available in the McCain Library and Archives. The information listed in brackets for each entry contains either a library book call number or a reference to items located in Historical Manuscripts. All materials are available for use in the Cleanth Brooks Reading Room, (Room 305), McCain Library and Archives.

Guide Books

Crutchfield, James Andrew. The Natchez Trace: A Pictorial History. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1985. [Miss F217 .N37 C78 1985]

Travel Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway Between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville: Southern Resources Unlimited, 1984. [Miss F217 .N37 C67 1984]

Young, Harold and Black, Patti Carr. The Natchez Trace. Jackson, Miss.: The University Press of Mississippi, 1985. [Miss F217 .N37 Y68 1985] 


Adams, Katherine J; Gould, Lewis L.  Inside the Natchez Trace Collection:  New Sources for Southern History.  Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 1999.  [Miss Z1251 .S7 I57 1999]

Atkinson, James R.  The Bolls Site:  an Early American Period Occupation of the Natchez Trace, old Natchez District, Adams County, Mississippi.  Tallahassee, Fla.: Southeast Archeological Center, 1987.  [Miss F347 .A2 A84 1987]

Coates, Robert O. The Outlaw Years: The History of the Land Pirates of the Natchez Trace. New York: Literary Guild, 1930. [Miss F396 .C65 1930]

Daniels, Jonathan. The Devil's Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962. [Miss F341 .D24]

Davis, William C.  A Way Through the Wilderness:  the Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier.  New York:  HarperCollins, 1995.  [Miss F217 .N37 D38 1995]

Flemming, Alice. Highways into History. New York: St. Martin Press, 1971. [Miss E179.5 .F58]

Howard, H.R., comp. The History of Virgil A. Stewart, and His Adventures in Capturing the Great "Western Land Pirate" and His Gang. New York: Harper, 1836. [Miss F341 .H696 1836]

Jamison, Lena Mitchell. "The Natchez Trace: A Federal Highway of the Old Southwest." Journal of Mississippi History 1 (1939): 82-99. [Miss F336 .J68 Vol. 1 1939]

Kane, Harnet Thomas. Natchez on the Mississippi. New York: Morrow, 1947. [Miss F349 .N2 K3]

Phares, Ross. Reverend Devil: A Biography of John A. Murrell. New Orleans: Pelican Publishing Company, 1941. [Miss F396 .P52 1941]

Phelps, Dawson A. "Stands and Travel Accommodations on the Natchez Trace." Journal of Mississippi History 11 (January 1949): 1-54. [Miss F336 .J68 Vol. 11 1949]

Phelps, Dawson A. "Travel on the Natchez Trace: A Study of Its Economic Aspects." Journal of Mississippi History 15 (July 1953): 155-164. [Miss F336 .J68 Vol. 15 1953]

Pruitt, Janye Conway. Migration of South Carolinians on the Natchez Trace. Fairfax, Virginia: 1949. [Miss F341 .P95]

Rowland, Dunbar. Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. Atlanta: Southern Historical Publishing Co., 1907. [Miss F339 .R88 1916 Vol. 1&2]

Rowland, Eron Opha Gregory. "Marking the Natchez Trace, an Historic Highway of the Lower South." Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, 11 (1910): 345-361. [Miss F336 .M75 Vol. 11 1910]

U.S. National Park Service. Natchez Trace Parkway Survey. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941. [Miss F341 .U56]

Juvenile Books

Applegate, Stanley.  The Devil's Highway.  Atlanta, Ga.: Peachtree, 1998.  [de Grummond PZ7 .A6487 Dg 1998]

Applegate, Stanley.  Natchez Under-the-Hill.  Atlanta, Ga.: Peachtree, 1999.  [de Grummond PZ7 .A6487 Nat 1999]

Marsh, Carole.  Natchez River Rogues!: Pirates, Playboys & the rest of the Cock-o'-the-Walk Crowd, Under-the-Hill & Along the Natchez Trace:  an Interactive Multimedia Book.  Atlanta, Ga.:  Gallopade, 1997.  [de Grummond F217 .N37 M37 1997]

Payne, Josephine Balfour. The Journey of Josiah Taltatters. New York: Junior Literary Guild, and Ariel Books, 1953. An account of a journey on the Natchez Trace where Reverend Taltatters acquires a pig, a chair, a dog, and a parrot during his journeys. Appealing to children in the 3rd to 5th grades. [de Grummond PZ7 .P295 Jo]

Pearson, William. Trouble on the Trace: A Story of the Natchez Trace in the Year 1801. New York: Ariel Books, 1954.A well-written story of a journey on the Natchez Trace as seen through the eyes of a 13 year old boy. [de Grummond PZ7 .P439 Tr]

Manuscript Collections

Natchez Trace Research Collection [M249 Historical Manuscripts]

Brandon (Gerard C.) Letter. 1829 [M60 Historical Manuscripts]

McNutt (Alexander G.) Letters. 1838-1840 [M67 Historical Manuscripts]

North (Ralph) Letter. 1883 [ M52 Historical Manuscripts]

Mississippiana Vertical File Headings

Contained in the vertical file under the following headings are a variety of newspaper articles, brochures, and other ephemeral materials on the Natchez Trace:

Mississippi - History


Mississippiana - Bibliography

Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway - Historic Sites