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Paving the Trace lesson plan


At one time in Mississippi’s history, the Natchez Trace was a series of roads and trails that connected the region to areas far beyond the boundaries of Mississippi. It is a road that has always been drenched in myth and folklore. Today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic route that extends from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, 4


Grades 7 through 12


Mississippi History Now article, Paving the Trace
• Chalk and chalkboard
• Overhead transparency and projector
• Notebook paper
• Pen or pencil
• Various reference books
• Computer and internet access
• Colored pencils and markers
• Unlined paper


The students will:

  • Determine how the Natchez Trace Parkway was established.
  • Research present-day locations along the Natchez Trace Parkway.
  • Create a travel brochure.


Ask the students how important roads and highways are to their ability to travel within their communities, state, and nationwide. Then, use a map to show students the location of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Tell the students that over the next several days they will study this historical road that serves as a scenic part of the history of their state.


Have the students read the Mississippi History Now article, “Paving the Trace,” prior to class.

Instruct the students to copy the question listed below into their notebooks and to work with a partner to arrive at an answer. The students can copy the question from the chalkboard or an overhead transparency.

Why did the Natchez Trace Parkway fail to become a major thoroughfare for travel?

In separate paragraphs, explain how the following played a part in the creation of the Natchez Trace Parkway:

  • Elizabeth Jones
  • Natchez Chamber of Commerce
  • Colonel Jim Walton
  • Congressman Jeff Busby
  • Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

Lead a class discussion about the article by asking for student volunteers to share answers to the questions.

For the next portion of the lesson, place students into groups of three, or allow them to work with a partner. Have the students research present-day locations along, or adjacent to, the Natchez Trace Parkway in order to select one location as a topic for a project. Assign student groups to create a travel brochure that could be used to lure tourists to visit the site on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Make various reference books and the internet available to the students in order for them to conduct research for this project. If a computer is available, the students can create their brochures on it.

Once the groups have completed their travel brochures, display them in the classroom.


Ask for members of each student group to share with the class interesting facts they learned about the site they researched.


• Class participation
• Answers to questions
• Travel brochures


Students can take a field trip to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Students can create a timeline that shows the history of the development of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Students can write a business letter to the Natchez Trace Parkway Center requesting information.

Students can compose a short story about events that might have taken place on the Natchez Trace.

Students can compose a letter that might have been sent to Congress requesting financial support in building the Natchez Trace Parkway.

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