Archived Story

Forks site essential part of history

Published 12:07am Thursday, October 24, 2013

In our minds, history can be fanciful and quaint, prim and proper. But it can also be ugly and horrific, even if it pains us to reimagine the horrors of yesteryear.

That’s the kind of history many people wish we could simply bury in the past and leave only to the scholars.

But doing so would be a mistake.

For the better part of 75 years, Natchez has made a considerable economy on a fancied up, even myopic view on our community’s history. For years, our community’s slogan touted that the “Old South” still lived here.

Majestic white columns, expansive front porches and globally appointed parlors only tell a portion of Natchez’s story.

The underbelly of Natchez was much more seedy, more shameful in hindsight. Backbreaking labor built the fortunes that fueled construction of the mansions for which Natchez is so well-known.

But a small almost nondescript piece of property perhaps holds the key to more of Natchez’s great mansions than perhaps any other single spot — the Forks of the Road.

Nearly the largest market for human slaves in the South before the Civil War, the site was nearly forgotten about until a small band of volunteers began touting its history.

Thank God they did. The site is now on the cusp of inclusion into the Natchez National Historical Park.

Plans to develop a housing project on the site are disappointing, but a compromise reached Tuesday between developers and the City of Natchez may have been the best outcome possible under the circumstance. We’re glad all parties met and hammered out an agreement.

Historic preservation should be colorblind, and on Tuesday, Natchez proved that’s not only possible but also the order of the day, particularly when everyone works together.

lean