National Park Service acquires new property at historic Forks of the Road ‘slave market’ site
Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2022
NATCHEZ — The National Park Service (NPS) today announced the acquisition of a third parcel to ensure the long-term preservation of land associated with Forks of the Road, one of the country’s largest sites for the trafficking of enslaved people during the antebellum era.
The historic O’Ferrall House property on the corner of O’Ferrall Avenue and Devereux Drive in Natchez lies within the 18-acre boundary of the Forks of the Road site, which was defined by Congress in 2017 when it authorized NPS to begin land acquisition.
“This acquisition aids the National Park Service in our work to preserve underrepresented stories and more fully capture the essence of America’s history and culture,” said Chris Abbett, associate regional director for partnerships, lands, interpretation and planning for the NPS South-Atlantic Gulf region. “We look forward to completing further acquisitions and working with partners to help park visitors learn about Forks of the Road and its effect on enslaved people, local communities and the nation.”
The purchase occurred one year after the NPS acquired its first two parcels of Forks of the Road land by donation from the City of Natchez.
These land acquisitions have been made possible, in part, by support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Park Foundation, Trust for Public Land, and the Archaeological Conservancy.
“Bringing history to life requires a deep commitment to telling a fuller and more complete story of our heritage, our triumphs and our struggles,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “The Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support the National Park Service and community partners to preserve the Forks of the Road site and the stories of enslaved people whose experience and legacy remain rooted in the landscape.”
“Forks of the Road allows us to both confront a tragic chapter in our nation’s history and honor the bravery of the enslaved people whose lives were forever changed here,” said Dr. Jocelyn Imani, Black History and Culture Initiative director for Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful to be part of this important preservation effort, illuminating vital lessons our history has to offer can strengthen our connection to our national heritage and to one another.”
The park will continue to acquire parcels from willing sellers within the Forks of the Road district stretching along both sides of Devereux Drive and St. Catherine Street from Rembert Avenue to Concord Avenue, then launch a formal planning process for the development of the site with public input.
For other activities and events at Natchez National Historical Park, including Melrose, the William Johnson House, Fort Rosalie or the Natchez Visitor Center, call 601-442-7047 or visit www.nps.gov/natc.