Focused on Mississippi: The Devil’s Punchbowl


NATCHEZ, Miss. (WJTV) – It looks like a jungle from up above, down below that first bluff east of the Mississippi River, a quarter mile maybe a half mile past the Natchez City Cemetery.

You are 200 feet up and your footing falls almost straight down into a two-pronged indentation into the bluffs that sort of looks like the roots on a molar tooth.

The moderate seclusion it afforded from boats on the river just below it and travelers on Cemetery Road just above it gave rise to all sorts of rumors and legends of dastardly deeds that were supposed to have happened in here.

A river pirate hid out, a hold up for Natchez Trace bandits where massacres and murders and mystical things have happened. Two airplanes actually have crashed into it over time- and other stuff. So much stuff that people started calling it The Devil’s Punchbowl. 

David Nue took me down into it one morning so I could get a look at what was really there.

We didn’t see the devil or any hidden treasure except maybe the treasure of a pristine bottom-land hardwood forest. You could use your imagination to take you back to a time before humans ever chopped a tree or shot a deer or cleared a parking lot.

The sounds surprised me. You could hear your footsteps and the crickets and other creepy-crawly things that must be right there nearby.

We did hear an airplane. Fortunately, it passed safely on overhead, probably landing at Natchez. And then when it got quieter. There was the almost silent very distant roar of jet engines way, way overhead. Busy people probably on their way from Atlanta to Houston. And then the forest fell silent again. 

And I thought how lucky we were, not to be on that distant airplane overhead going to somewhere far from home, but to be here with nowhere in particular to be and no particular time to have to be there. To just be here right now, just like the tress in the deep woods. Right here. Right now. Always. 

The Devil’s Punchbowl is private property and there isn’t an easy access. Besides, it is appreciated best from the road above where you can use your imagination and create your on story of what might be going on in there.


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