Origins of the Trace

"The Natchez Trace's Historical significance to the United States comes from the fact that in 1801 president Thomas Jefferson decided the old Indian trail from Nashville to Natchez should become a national road. Traveling the Trace you'll find that during this national road era the Trace was quite active, and vital to the growth of the young United States in the early 1800s.

"You'll also find the story of this road and the trail which preceded it didn't begin with the United States territories, it didn't even begin with the European explorers and colonists who came hundreds of years before. Even the Indians whose story along the trail reaches back over 10,000 years found animal traces through the woods as they, the first human beings, migrated into this "Paradise."

"The origins of the trail date back into the darkness of prehistory and grew naturally out of the lay of the land. Hundreds of thousands of years ago some of the region's richest soil was carried in by the wind during the last ice age. The greatest hardwood forest in the world grew east of the Mississippi River and extended from the Gulf of Mexico up into Canada. It was home to many species of animals, many now extinct. Buffalo herds lived in the area and it's thought that the origins of the Natchez Trace began as buffalo trails.

"Next time we'll look at the early Indian Cultures that used this ancient road. For Natchez Trace: A Road Through the Wilderness, I'm Frank Thomas."

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