The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken continues today with a trip to Mississippi. It is the smallest state we have visited to date, ranking 32nd in area. Mississippi ranks 31st in population, with just under three million residents. That makes it a very balanced state from an urban/rural standpoint
Mississippi is bordered on the east by Alabama, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The long loop of Louisiana borders Ole Miss on the southwest. Arkansas provides a northwestern boundary. Tennessee’s enormous east/west spread provides Mississippi’s northern boundary.
Jackson is the capital of Mississippi. It is also the only Mississippi city exceeding 100,000 population.
Mississippi’s original pre-statehood charter was an ambitious one indeed. According to the charter, Mississippi Territory stretched to the Pacific Ocean! In 1817, it entered (with more realistic borders) as the 20th state.
Mississippi was a Confederate state, but one with more humane laws than many other slave states. Beginning in 1822, slaves in Mississippi were protected by law from cruel and unusual punishment by their owners.
Mississippi is low country. That is never more apparent than when we look for its highest elevation. That would be Woodall Mountain in the far northeastern corner of the state. The “mountain” stands 806 feet above sea level. The Gulf of Mexico is the lowest spot in the State. The geographic center of Mississippi is two miles northwest of Wiggins, found in Stone County. All of Mississippi is in the Central Time Zone and it observes Daylight Savings Time.
Major Airports in Mississippi:
Golden Triangle Regional serves about 40,000 customers in the Columbus, Starkville, and West Point area. Gulfport-Biloxi International greets over 300,000 flyers annually. Jackson-Evers enplanes almost a half million passengers a year. Atlanta is the most frequent destination from all three major Mississippi airports.
Top Movies Filmed in Mississippi:
Django Unchained (2012)
The Help (2011)
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
The Blind Side (1999)
Military/Politics: Trent Lott
Actors: Jamie Lynn Spears, Lacey Chabert, Trinitee Stokes, Candice Patton, and James Earl Jones.
Entertainers: Britney Spears, Kayla Jones, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, Rick Ross, Hayley Williams, Crystianna Summers, Ray J, Camryn Harris, Diplo, Sunjai Williams, Brandy, Lance Bass, Neil Perry, Sky Williams, Trent Harmon, Jim Henson, Faith Hill, Tamia M. Whittaker, Kimberly Perry, Karlous Miller, B.B. King, Star Williams, Nate Dogg, LeAnn Rimes, and Jimmy Buffett.
Athletes: Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Walter Payton, and Floyd Mayweather Sr.,
Authors: Tennessee Williams, Shelby Foote, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner.
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Mississippi:
The first successful lung transplant, and the first successful heart transplant were both completed in Mississippi.
In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt was offered the opportunity to shoot a captured bear in Mississippi. The President refused, and the “Teddy Bear” was born.
The United States was formed, in part, because of our Colonial distaste of royalty, but Elvis Presley (The King) was born in Tupelo.
Before 1884, shoes were sold individually. Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor on Washington Street in Vicksburg conceived the idea of selling pairs of shoes in boxes.
S.B. (Sam) Vick, from Oakland, Mississippi, played professional baseball with the Red Sox and Yankees. He is the only player who ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth.
Memorial Day came to be in Columbus when the ladies there decided to decorate both Confederate and Union soldiers’ graves with beautiful bouquets and garlands of flowers.
Root beer was invented in 1898 by Biloxi’s Adolf Barq.
Let’s Take a Trip Through Mississippi:
We are going to bisect the heart of Mississippi with a trip beginning in Corinth on the Tennessee border and finishing on the sandy beaches of the Gulf. In between, we are going to celebrate beauty and higher education. Then we will shed bitter tears of what might have been for some brave boys.
We leave Corinth, and head for Oxford. The Greatest Road Trip truly appreciates higher education, but we don’t choose to stop at every campus we find. That said, the Oxford Campus of Ole Miss is a special place. “The Grove” is where the Rebel faithful gathers on football Saturdays for one of the most famous tailgater events in all the land. Later we will go see College Hill Presbyterian Church, one of the best examples of antebellum architecture anywhere down south. We will stay at the Quality Inn Batesville, for $64.
The next morning we will take the meandering MS-278 west out of Oxford because that is what today is all about. We are going to meander into the Delta country to experience the rural deep south. The region’s connection to the river, the down-home friendliness, and the regional taste bud thrill known as the Mississippi Hot Tamale will cause us to slow down. It’s time to enjoy what God hath wrought in the way of food in this special part of the world. Unless we miss our guess, there is someone playing southern blues just yonder around the corner. We’ll stay the night at the Days Inn Greenville, for $62. Don’t you just love the lodging prices here?
History buffs will appreciate today’s trip, but we aren’t sure “enjoy” is the right word. A little less than two hours from Greenville we find Vicksburg National Military Park. This is the site of the bloodiest confrontation of the Civil War, The War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression. Trust us, you’ll meet people down here who use any and all of those terms. The Military Park is 18 miles of history. We’ll start at the Visitor’s Center and be given the choice to a) go on our own. b) pick up a CD that will narrate or c) take a guided tour. We wouldn’t get the most out of the tour unless we, at least, get the CD. We decide the tour would be even better. We learn more than our high school ever taught us about this pivotal point in the war. Our trip outline allowed a little more than a half day for the tour. We decided to take a full day and stay at the Rodeway Inn Vicksburg, for $55.
Today is Kids Day and a beauty! Just about 200 miles away is the Gulf Coast city of Gulfport. We make sure to stop first at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. There we find tons of interactive toys, games, and activities. Later, we’ll stop at The Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum for one of the best displays of model railroading in the United States. Finally, Gulf Islands Water Park and a two-day pass will bring our vacation to an end. Lots of slides, and a lazy river for Mom and Dad. Stay two nights at Clarion Inn Gulfport. Rooms from $64.
We hope you enjoyed this trip through an underappreciated state, and join us in being Ole Miss fans this football season. That is unless you’re a Mississippi State Bulldog fan. They love their football too.