Some Interesting Facts about Mississippi
This romantic region of vast Delta plantations and softly scented woodlands sings with new song of progress. Come for the fine museums, top notch recreation and sizzling-hot blues.
Before the Civil War, King Cotton ruled Mississippi. Steamboats on the rivers were heaped high with bales of the fluffy white fiber. On the plantations, young women in hoopskirts and crinolines sat under shady magnolia trees. Elegant young men galloped on horseback, small dogs yipping alongside. Papa stood on the white-columned porch, surveying his domain.
Such scenes tell only part of the story. They hark back to a time when the social world of Mississippi, as of many other parts of the country, was strictly divided. The lives of plantation owners were very different from the struggles of poor white farmers and black slaves.
Industry: Apparel, furniture, lumber and wood products, food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment.
The Civil War changed many things, but poor whites and poor blacks still struggled. With slavery abolished, the plantation system became one of tenant farming.
Sharecroppers, both black and white, were given land to work, seeds, and tools in exchange for a hefty portion of the harvest owed to the landowner.
The rich, fertile soil that produced cotton was laid down over millennia by the Mississippi River. Each year floods sent tons of alluvium, river borne sand and silt, over the banks. In time, soil 150 feet (45 m) deep formed on the Mississippi's alluvial plain, or the delta, as the local people call it. Topsoil, the layer from which plants get most of their nutrients, reaches a depth of 25 feet (8 m) in some places.
The alluvial plain, narrow along the state's southwestern border, widens north of Vicksburg to encompass the basin between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. Levees- barriers of earth, sandbags, rock, concrete, or steel-line the banks and usually keep the rivers from overflowing. Delta farmers still raise cotton, but they also row soybeans, rice, and wheat and have added a new finny "crop." In purposely flooded old cotton fields, catfish fatten on grain, like livestock, until they are ready to process and ship out. Mississippi leads the country in meeting the demand for this favorite. Many delta families, for whom there often is no other work, can make some money by working in plants that process catfish and rice.
Vicksburg fell to Union troops in 1863, so fell the hopes, say historians, of Dixie. The loss of the "Gibraltar of Confederacy" in a bloody 47 day siege spelled the loss of control of the Mississippi River. The past literally reverberates at the Vicksburg National Military Park-particularly in the summer, when the living-history program includes a barrage of musket and cannon firings twice a day. You can spend an entire day at the 1,800 acre park, which includes a visitor center, he National Cemetery and the Union ironclad U.S.S Cairo, salvaged 100 years after it sank in the Yazoo River in 1862. For an extra fee, Licensed guides will lead two-hour tours.
Today rolling on the Delta Queen a historic paddle wheeler built in 1926, carries passengers up and down the Mississippi in the tradition of the great "floating wedding cakes" of the steamboat era. The waterways experiment station exhibits scale models of many of America's waterways. Afterward, view the real thing by taking a sightseeing tour of the Mississippi. For the adventurous., there's a hour-long hydrofoil tour of the river region offered by Mississippi River Adventures, located at the city waterfront.
Jackson one of Mississippi's major cities features many attractions, just to name a few: Mississippi State Historical Museum, New State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, Jackson Zoological Park, stroll the boardwalk through the open-air Rain Forest, where monkeys hang from spindly tree branches. Time travel to the rural south of the 1920s at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum.