NPS downtown walking tours are back

Published 10:47 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And just when you thought they were gone — the NPS Downtown Walking Tours are back!

Natchez National Historical Park is proud to present another season of interpretive walking tours of historic downtown Natchez at 2 p.m. on Saturdays beginning Saturday and ending on Nov. 24, (except for balloon race weekend). The tours are free of charge and begin at the William Johnson House located at 210 State St.

Park Rangers will examine a variety of topics related to the history and people of Natchez like William Johnson, the Civil War, 19th century amusements and the territorial period. A schedule will be published soon providing dates for these tours:

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“William Johnson’s Natchez” discusses the life of William Johnson, a free person of color who owned multiple barbershops, businesses and slaves and who died a tragic death. Some stops along the way that help to tell Johnson’s story include the William Johnson House, the site of the NAPAC museum, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Adams County courthouse.

“Flags over Natchez” describes the creation of the state of Mississippi in 1817 and how the foundations for the present city have their basis in laws from long ago. Before Natchez was an American city, a variety of flags flew over its streets including those from France, England and Spain.

“The Civil War in Natchez” takes a look at the role of African American soldiers during this conflict and what their experiences were both in and around Natchez. In fact, these soldiers, known as United States Colored Troops, were engaged in battle just across the river in Vidalia, Louisiana.

“Historic Spaces, Sacred Places” looks at the role of religion and religious buildings during the antebellum period. How were the wealthy planters affected by their religious beliefs? What do their places of worship say about the time and their perception of themselves in society?

“Delights, Diversions and Debauchery” examines the pastimes and vices of antebellum America. Did you know that an elephant once resided in Natchez? Or that roller-skating was a popular form of recreation in the 1800s? This fun-filled tour will delight audiences and give a little insight to some old-time stress relievers.

The park will be promoting the tours with fliers distributed locally as well as information posted on the park Web site and in the “Tracings” section of The Democrat. Please note that the park may occasionally have to modify the tour topics in response to staffing changes. But gather your friends and out-of-town visitors for a great look at Natchez during a time long gone — and some fun exercise as well!

For more information please contact a Park Ranger at 601-446-5790 or access our Web site at We look forward to seeing you there!

Angela M. Lurz is a park ranger at the National Park Service.