From Sea to Shining Sea, Day 10: Jackson, MS to… Jackson, MS
Though we're not particularly sentimental about holidays, we have family members who are. We declined invitations from both sides of our family to spend Thanksgiving with them because we expected to be much farther west on our trip by this time. When we realized this morning that we were less than three hours from my family's Thanksgiving celebration, we considered backtracking a bit for this opportunity to be with so many of our loved ones.
Before we decided, we headed west to Vicksburg. At first we didn't realize that US-80 is dual marked with I-20 as it leaves Jackson going west. Just as we have been doing, to stay off the interstate we asked the GPS to take us to Vicksburg using a route that minimizes freeways. With 80 not running parallel to I-20, as it has been, Geeps had to get creative. On a convoluted route, she sent us north on a state highway to the Natchez Trace, southwest on the trace to MS-467 which took us to Edwards (pop. 1,031) where we picked up US-80, but it turned out not to be the real deal.
|RUINS OF FORMER BUSINESSES IN THE TOWN OF EDWARDS|
|THE WORD IS OUT; OLD US-80 IS BEST AVOIDED.|
|THE REHABBED LETTERBOX BEFORE (L) AND AFTER (R)|
Yet control of the river was vital to the Union cause. It would split the Confederacy in half and restore a vital shipping artery to the North. General Grant was charged with capturing the city and, with the history of stinging Union defeats there, came up with the idea to simply bypass Vicksburg. He would have his troops dig a canal across Desoto Point, a peninsula in the bend of the river. Engineers assured him that if the levee was cut upstream, the river would rush into the canal and shift its flow west of Vicksburg, making the city irrelevant and putting the Mississippi River in Union hands.
Inspired and clever as the plan was, it proved impossible to implement. Rain had swelled the river to flood stage and soldiers were working under debilitating conditions—cold, wet, disease-ridden, mosquito-infested. Hundreds died in the effort before the project was abandoned in the spring and Vicksburg was taken in July after a traditional attack and two-month siege. Remnants of Grant's Canal are evident near the little town of Delta, LA. The area is marked with interpretive signs and considered part of the Vicksburg National Military Park. And, by the way, during the flood of 1876—too late to help Union forces—the Mississippi River did change course and cut a secondary channel across Desoto Point near the site of Grant's Canal.
By the time we were ready to leave the remnant of the canal, we had decided to follow the lead of Grant and the Mississippi and change course, returning across the river to Vicksburg. After taking a few photos on the hill above the river, we headed back to Jackson to overnight on our way to Thanksgiving family fun and frolics tomorrow. We haven't mentioned to anyone that we're backtracking to attend. Maybe we'll let it be a surprise.
TUESDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2016
• Ended in: Jackson, MS
• Miles driven: 115 (trip: 1,315)
• Weather: 32° to 71°, clear
• Letterboxes: 4 found (trip: 23F, 7P)
• Walked: 2.4 miles (trip: 21.9)
• States: MS, LA (trip: 4)
• Counties: 4 (trip: 51)
• Towns: 7 (trip: 97)
• Gas: $2.299 (premium), Jackson, MS
• Water collected from Mississippi River: 0 oz.
• Ducks launched in Mississippi River: 0
Loved: Stumbling upon a little-known piece of American history at Grant's Canal. While we were there, we met a Civil War buff from Utah. After we raved about the scenic beauty of his state, he agreed but lamented that he had to travel east to visit Civil War sites.
Lacking: Our ability to stand at the shore of the Mighty Mississippi
Learned: Even the great ones change course when circumstances indicate the need.
More Photos from Today
|NASTY MANAGEMENT MESSAGE OF THE DAY—IN JACKSON KROGER STORE|
|AUTUMN CANOPY OVER THE NATCHEZ TRACE|
|WAITING TO CROSS THE TRACKS TO VISIT GRANT'S CANAL|
|INDENTION TO THE RIGHT OF SIGNAGE IS WHAT REMAINS OF GRANT'S CANAL.|
|US-80 GETTING SOME RESPECT FROM LOUISIANA HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT|
|I-20 BRIDGE OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT VICKSBURG|
|LOOKING ACROSS THE RIVER FROM NAVY CIRCLE ON THE VICKSBURG BLUFF|
|CURRENT BRIDGE ON LEFT; OLD US-80 AND RAILROAD BRIDGE ON RIGHT.|
|SO MUCH RIVER, SO HARD TO REACH|