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Top Five Western Deep South National Heritage Areas

Updated on May 10, 2014

Mississippi and Louisianna Gulf Coast National Heritage Areas

There are five National Heritage Areas (NHA) in the Mississippi and Louisiana region - what I have dubbed the Western Deep South. This lens will share some highlights of each of the five as well as a little general NHA information.

This region is steeped in cultural and historic richness with many national entities having played roles in the area over many, many years. Come along on this journey today... perhaps join us in visiting the area as a Heritage Tourist in the future.

Image of the reverse side of the Mississippi State Quarter, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Story about Corinth, Mississippi, Civil War sites

Corinth, Mississippi, was the center of Civil War activity in the west 150 years ago this summer following the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh across the border in Tennessee. Corinth was a crossroads town where east-west and north-south major railroads met. It was a strategic location for both Union and Confederate forces in the Civil War fighting.

Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley
Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area

Tupelo, Mississippi, best known as birthplace of Elvis Presley

Tupelo is one of many cities, towns and communities in the Mississippi Hills NHA that if full of cultural and historic places and stories. It is home to the Tupelo National Battlefield as well as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Presley changed American music forever.

Go to the Mississippi Hills NHA website to see the many other nationally significant stories, places and persons from this region of the country and state.

Photo of Elvis Presley birthplace, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.,_Mississippi

Elvis Presley on Amazon

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area

This NHA covers most of the land mass of the State of Mississippi, bounded on the west by I-55, on the south by Highway 14, and on the north and east by the statelines.

A partial list of famous persons from the area includes: William Faulkner, John Grisham, Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette, Tennessee Williams... and Oprah.

Davy Crockett raises horses here and Andrew Jackson marched his troops down the Natchez Trace. What else can you find?

John Grisham on Amazon

Cane River National Heritage Area - 35 Miles on both sides of the Cane River

Extending from just south of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, the NHA includes 7 National Historic Landmarks, 3 state historic parks, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, and much, much more in the way of historic and cultural attractions.

Riverwalk in Natchitoches, LA
Riverwalk in Natchitoches, LA

Natchitoches, LA

Photo of the Cane River Riverwalk in Natchitoches, LA, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.,_Louisia...

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area - 14 parishes in south-central Louisiana

On the maps, look for the 1) Upper Region, 2) Between Two Rivers Region, 3) Bayou Teche Corridor Region, and 4) Coastal Zone Region.

Note specific links to Cultural Heritage, Natural Heritage, Sustainability, Resources and About on the website.

The Delta of the Atchafalaya River looking northwest
The Delta of the Atchafalaya River looking northwest

Atchafalaya River

The NHA runs about 150 miles along the river

The river-swamp ecosystem is habitat to more than 85 species of fish, 200 species of birds, alligators, black bear and other wildlife.

You can spend a day paddling under live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and through cypress tree forests.

Photo is the delta of the Atchafalaya River looking northwest, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dockery Farms Plantation
Dockery Farms Plantation

Dockery Farms Plantation

"It is widely regarded as the place where Delta blues music was born"

Founded in 1895 by Will Dockery, Dockery Farms is the quintessential delta plantation.

What is the Juke? Follow the links to find the answer.

Photo image of Dockery Farms Plantation, typical of the plantations of the Delta, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area - Cities along I-10 are included in the HNA

Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport

Biloxi Lighthouse, Biloxi, Mississippi - along the Gulf Coast
Biloxi Lighthouse, Biloxi, Mississippi - along the Gulf Coast

Biloxi, Mississippi - in the Mississippi Gulf Coast NHA

Typical of cities across 1-10 on the Gulf Coast

My family and I lived in Biloxi (actually D'Iberville) while I was in the Air Force Ground Officer Electronics School at Keesler Air Force Base in the last five months of 1964 - before the big hurricanes hit. I have photos of my family in front of this Lighthouse, then, somewhere. It was, and is, very distinctive.

Built in 1848 and 'reputed to be one of the most photographed objects in the American South."

Image of the Biloxi Lighthouse, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.,_Mississippi

Which of the five NHAs would top your planning list?

Choose your top NHA for a future vacation

See results

Your Comments on this Western Deep South NHAs appreciated!

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    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Interesting places to visit Bill, I have always wanted to make the trip, as the history is so deep :)

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I've never visited this part of the country and would love to take some time to explore it!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @DeborahDian: The NHAs are well worth a second look, for sure! ;-)

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      I love your series about the national heritage areas. I see there are a lot of interesting places I would like to see!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @iamraincrystal: Thanks! Hope you make it one day! ;-)

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @AlleyCatLane: Good for you! Do it! ;-)

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Wow lovely photos! ^_^ I hope to one day get to visit the nice places in the US.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      I'd like to go to Natchitoches, LA . I have some ancestors that settled there and would like to do some genealogy research.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @KandDMarketing: Great to hear... my Heritage Tourism series should be of interest, then. See my Heritage Tourism Lensography. ;-)

    • KandDMarketing profile image

      KandDMarketing 5 years ago

      Lots of good stuff here. My wife and I tend to wander places that have significance, rather than touristy money traps. This gives us a few more targets to shoot for! Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Look interesting. Thank you for sharing this information.