Last weekend we began exploring the state of Mississippi. I'm planning on visiting plenty of Antebellum mansions while we're here, but our first stop was the town of Grand Gulf: one-time boom town, major river port, theater center, and a strategic Confederate stronghold during the Civil War.
Today it is a virtual ghost town. Originally settled by the French in the early 1700s, it became a major port city on the Mississippi River. Prosperous plantation owners shipped loads of cotton to northern textile mills from here.
There was even talk of Grand Gulf as a possible site for the state capital - until several disasters hit the area. Yellow fever turned into an epidemic, claiming the lives of many of the town's citizens. Then a devastating tornado ravaged the town. Finally, the currents of the mighty Mississippi River ate away the entire 55 block business section of Grand Gulf.
The Civil War destroyed what little was left of the town, with Union forces twice occupying the area, then burning the few remaining buildings to the ground before withdrawing.
The few inhabitants today still do battle with the river!
Not far from town is the Grand Gulf Military Monument dedicated to the battle fought here during the Civil War.
The small museum has some excellent displays on life in the area during the war.
Outside the museum are various buildings and displays. This is a re-creation of the jail at Grand Gulf.
This is no re-creation though! This is the actual cell they used. They dug it out of the river mud.
This is a hearse from New Orleans. The sign says "people were dying to ride in it."
After viewing the displays near the museum, we took a driving tour of the 400 acre landmark which includes this church transported here from the nearby ghost town of Rodney, Mississippi.
One of the most interesting sights on the driving tour was the Grand Gulf Cemetery.
Most of the people buried in this, rather large, cemetery died long before the Civil War started.
As we wandered among the tombstones the thing that struck me the most was how young most of these people were when they died. There were way too many children here too.
There was a lot to see at Grand Gulf but we had more miles to go!