Take a trip back in time and visit the city of Natchez, Mississippi, during their pilgrimages in the Spring and Fall. The Fall pilgrimage is coming in late September and is a treat for history buffs, antique lovers, and people who want a taste of the old South.
The small city of Natchez, according to census figures, is less than 20,000 people, but when pilgrimage comes around, this city pulls out all of the stops to provide Southern hospitality at its best.
The area on Silver Street overlooking the Mississippi River was known as Natchez Under the Hill. This is where the gamblers, thieves and riverboat men would come and create havoc. Today the area hosts restaurants and gift shops, to replace the haunts of these undesirables. There is one river boat casino at Silver Street,also.
The pilgrimage, according to The Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, brings in tourists who want to visit the homes of the town. Scheduled tours are available to view seven antebellum homes. They are the Auburn, Longwood, Magnolia Hall, Melrose, Monmouth, Rosalie and Stanton Hall. In the Fall, plan to stay three days to see all of these homes.
The owners dress in period costumes and personally take a tour through their homes. They tell the history of the home, and the furniture of the period is intact. The monies collected from the pilgrimage are used to keep up the homes.
The most famous of these homes is the Rosalie. It was built around 1820 and served as the local headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War.
The Monmouth is another example of period homes. It was the home of General John Quitman, who was a hero in the Mexican War, Governor of Mississippi, and a U.S. Congressman.
Not only are these homes for public viewing, but the famous Natchez Pageant is presented during Pilgrimage Week. This pageant features period dress and history of the town of Natchez. It is tradition for families to participate in this pageant, and many families have had a member participate since its inception. There are musical performances by gospel groups, craft fairs and regional food available.
For more information regarding the pageant and home tours, you may contact the Natchez Pilgrimage Office at 602-446-6631 or 800-647-6742.
There are many fine motels to choose from in the area. The Isle Capri Casino offers rooms on Canal Street near the River. There are many chain motels in the area, including Ethe Monmouth Plantation, where rooms are furnished with period antiques. There are several Bed and Breakfast Inns in the area, also. For more information on these establishments, you can contact the Mississippi Tourist Bureau. A word to the wise, make reservations early if you plan to attend pilgrimage, as accommodations go quickly.