CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – We’re in the middle of our summer series of Gas Tank Getaway stories. This time, we have a getaway that you can’t go to right now.
They’ll open again, but it’s uncertain when. When they do, put Grand Gulf State Park on your getaway list.
Grand Gulf State Park is unlike any other state park in Mississippi. That’s because this is where the old town of Grand Gulf stood before the Mississippi River changed course and carved about 50 of the 75 blocks of Grand Gulf into the river in the early 1800s. Then, plagues hit and killed off a lot of people. Tornadoes killed more.
The Union army tried to land there in the Civil War but couldn’t. They crossed the Mississippi River, south at Bruinsburg, then promptly marched back to Grand Gulf and burned what was left of it.
Director of the park, Bud Ross, said, “They had cholera, yellow fever, steamboat explosions, tornadoes. It was just a town that wasn’t meant to be.”
What was left of the town was incorporated into the Grand Gulf Military Park, where the cemetery is preserved, along with a couple of original houses from the late 1700s, some Civil War artifacts, the Sacred Heart Church, an old dog trot-style farmhouse and other buildings. More recently, the museum.
Now, Grand Gulf has another mess. Last Saturday, another storm hit the park and reminded folks that nature is definitely boss in that part of the world.
A camper trailer was destroyed. Fortunately, the occupant had gone home for the weekend and was not there. The rest of the damage is toppled trees, blocking the loop road that goes past the Civil War trenches at the top of the bluff and power outages. The power will be back on soon. It’s the big trees that will take a while to remove. The park doesn’t have the heavy equipment it takes to clear them up.
Fortunately, none of the park’s buildings were damaged. As soon as the trees are cleared, Grand Gulf Park will once again be open for us to go on tour. It’s worth the trip into the back country, off Highway 61 and north of Port Gibson. It’s worth it to go see where so much history happened, and evidently, is still happening.