Last week, Walt Grayson gave you a glimpse of the high water at Grand Gulf Park. But there’s a lot more to the place as he explains.
It is one of my favorite back-roads destinations. It is an extinct Mississippi River Port town. And there are hundreds, maybe thousands of stories in the single story of Grand Gulf. A lot of them are contained in the State Park there.
Grand Gulf, Mississippi was born from the Mississippi River and was ultimately killed by the river. But had an interesting life in between. Riverboats still pass where it thrived. It is near where the Big Black River empties into the Mississippi thereby giving the town ample opportunities for river trade- and river disasters- a yellow fever epidemic, a steamboat explosion, the Mississippi changing course and eating 50 blocks of the town. And then Civil War bombarded what was left- all thanks to the Mississippi River. And there was a devastating tornado that had nothing to do with the river but was addressed to whom it may concern. And those concerned by all of this are buried in the town’s cemetery up on the bluff.
In here are also two African American Union Soldiers whose graves were about to slough off into a gully. About a dozen years ago a group of Sons of Confederate Veterans reburied them in a safer place.
There is a museum here with Civil War memorabilia including the signature of the only President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis- and also the signature of the FIRST President of the United States, George Washington.
And then going WAY back is an ice-age mastodon bone unearthed from the Mississippi bluffs.
The Spanish House was built in the 1790s while all of this area was still owned by Spain. In its front yard is Civil War-era Fort Wade from which the Confederates held off a Union naval bombardment, during which the fort’s namesake, Colonel Wade, lost his head and left a rather recognizable ghost according to one former park manager, his wife, a camper and a boy scout, who all claim to have seen him up here around the Spanish House or the old Sacred Heart Catholic Church moved here to higher ground from Rodney in the 1980s.
One more building relocated here originally in Franklin County, Scotia- a pioneer log house built in the 1780s. A taste of the past that will quickly make you glad that we’ve come a long way.
It is an eclectic collection of odds and ends that are all in the mix of what made us who we are today- at Grand Gulf State Park.
The park is off of Highway 61 north of Port Gibson. When the Mississippi falls below 49 feet on the Vicksburg gauge the park should be able to open again.