November 22-27, 2014 – At the end of my Natchez Trace Parkway trek that started in Nashville the month before, I ended up staying on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi at River View RV Park in Vidalia, LA.
The great manager there, Dorafay, recommended a couple of the Natchez day trips I did below and I’m sure without her, I never would have known about them.
St. Mary’s Chapel – Laurel Hill Plantation is small but still overwhelming in its effect with the beautiful and peaceful setting that surrounds it.
This side had some renovation going on and I was sorry I couldn’t get inside to see what that looked like.
Close up, far away, side view, whatever – it’s an absolutely gorgeous place. I hugged all the big oaks around here and told them how beautiful they are! There was not one other person around the entire time I was here, so nobody to call for a straight jacket for me. 🙂
I did walk all around it and found the little old cemetery in back and I reassured Kathryn that her resting place was still being looked after. It wasn’t until I downloaded the pictures that I saw this orb hanging around. I know my more practical minded friends call these lens flare or something, but I still think it’s the spirits letting us know they’re still connected to this earth somehow at least sometimes. 🙂
I later found this article with pictures of the chapel interior: You Won’t Find Another Chapel Anywhere in the World Like This One in Mississippi – Tucked away in the woods near Natchez sits a beautiful Gothic-style church known as St. Mary’s Chapel. Now almost hidden, the church was at one time a part of the Laurel Hill plantation. Sometime in the 1960s, the plantation’s main home burned down, leaving behind one of the most unique churches in the state.
Windsor Ruins (Natchez Trace Travel): Built in 1859-61 by Smith Daniell who only lived in the large mansion for a few weeks before he died. The Windsor plantation once sprawled over 2,600 acres. Legend says that from a roof observatory, Mark Twain watched the Mississippi River in the distance.
A Yankee soldier was shot in the front doorway of the home. During the Civil War the mansion was used as a Union hospital and observation post, thus sparing it from being burned by Union troops.
However, after the Civil War, during a house party on February 17, 1890 a guest left a lighted cigar on the upper balcony and Windsor burned to the ground. Everything was destroyed except 23 of the columns, balustrades and iron stairs.
This National Park Service brochure has drawings of how the home looked before it was destroyed.
If you’re seeing it from the Natchez Trace Parkway, it’s between Mileposts 30 & 40.
I did walk around the town of Natchez a little and came across St. Mary’s Cathedral, which I thought was really unusual and the park around it totally lovely. I also thought what a big world apart from little St. Mary’s Chapel in the woods and admit my preference for the little chapel vs. the big cathedral.
I wished I had more time to tour some of the plantation homes around Natchez, because you can see them all over the city.
But still, given the choice, I opted for the more out of the way and lesser known attractions, and I’m still glad I did since it gives me another reason to return to Natchez.