Clearing begins at Fort Rosalie site

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

NATCHEZ — The National Park Service started clearing the way Monday for a renovated Fort Rosalie.

Throughout October, NPS contractors will be removing vegetation from the Fort Rosalie site, located on the west side of Canal Street between the Natchez Visitor Reception Center and the D.A. Biglane Street.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond said contractors would be removing invasive plant species such as paper mulberry, parasol trees and wisteria vines.

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“The focus is on taking out the invasive species,” Bond said. “But there are lot of native species clogging up the area, too.”

The overarching goal, Bond said, is to get the site ready for the eventual installation of walking trails, picnic tables and panels of historical information similar to what is currently along the Natchez as part of the Natchez Trails project.

“We want to offer a safe, meaningful visitor experience there,” she said.

Some vegetation — such as oak, pecan and hackberry trees — won’t be removed, Bond said.

“We want to leave a buffer by Canal Street, which tends to get loud,” she said.

Once nuisance vegetation is removed, Bond said NPS officials would begin meeting to further discuss what they want the final picture of Fort Rosalie to look like.

After Aug. 3, 2016, Bond said she hopes to begin the next phase of plans for Fort Rosalie, which will involve stabilizing the old log cabin and the house next to it, which are both on the Fort Rosalie site.

“The second phase will involve developing museum space and public restrooms,” Bond said.

The small house next to the log cabin is the tentative location for a small museum that would display colonial artifacts and information panels depicting Natchez’s early years, Bond said.

The NPS is still waiting to finalize plans for the log cabin, which most recently housed Fat Mama’s Tamales, Bond said.

The log cabin was originally built in the early 1940s as a gift shop and entrance to a recreation of the original fort that served as a tourist attraction.

“We are having some meetings in the next month to finalize what is going in there,” she said.

Landscaping work, Bond said, would be paid for by the NPS.

“We just want people to be aware of what they are going to see on Canal Street,” Bond said. “We want people to know we are moving forward on this.”

The Fort Rosalie site is separate from the Rosalie mansion and the Bicentennial Gardens, which are owned by the Mississippi State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Bond said the work would have no impact on the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race festivities, which begin Oct. 16.