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Origins of the Natchez Trace     

Native Americans used many early footpaths created by the foraging of bison, deer and other large game, who could break paths through undergrowth. In the case of the Natchez Trace, bison traveled north to find salt licks in the Nashville area.

After Native Americans first began to settle the land, they began to blaze the trail further, until it became a relatively (for the time) well-worn path traversable by horse in single-file.

The first recorded European explorer to travel the Natchez Trace in its entirety was an unnamed Frenchman in 1742, who wrote of the trail and its "miserable conditions", though it may have been traveled in part before, particularly by famed Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.

Early European explorers depended on the assistance of Native Americans—specifically, the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw. These tribes had long used the Trace for trade among themselves.

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NAPAC Museum
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Historic Jefferson College
P. O. Box 700 Washington

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