HED: Team offers new Natchez Trace perspective

CATEGORY: USA Federal Government

AUTHOR: MARTY

HED: Team offers new Natchez Trace perspective

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

Four students who spent the last three months traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway to prepare a report for the Historic American Engineering Record said the hardest part of their work was deciding what to leave out.

“It’s so vast,” said Katie Dugdill, a landscape architect from Manchester, England, who is in the country on an exchange program through the International Council on Monuments and Sites.

“There was so much information,” Dugdill said. “The hardest part was trying to decide which parts to look at in detail. We covered what we thought was important.”

The HAER research is funded through the National Park Service and the final documentation will be made available to the public, said Sara Amy Leach, chief interpreter for the Natchez Trace.

“When it is finalized it will go to the Library of Congress and eventually will be available on the Internet and on (computer) disk,” Leach said.

The team was made up of Dugdill; Tim Halsey, a landscape architect from Toledo, Ohio; Nicholas “Naz” Zydcryn, an architecture student at the University of Oregon; and Jean Fulton, an historian from Las Cruces, N.M.

Documenting the route

The group produced detailed drawings of parkway bridges, landscapes and related features as well as documenting the evolution of the Natchez-to-Nashville route and its natural and cultural aspects.

“It gives us an external viewpoint to something we deal with every day,” Leach said of the group’s final presentation Friday.

The HAER program is part of a program developed during the Works Progress Administration era of the 1930s to document historic buildings and structures. It now is used to help students in related fields learn while continuing the documentation effort.

“You have no idea where you’re going to be sent,” Fulton said of the selection process for the teams. “You’re meeting three other people who are new to you. … But, as outsiders, we see things that people who see them everyday don’t see anymore.”

Halsey, the team leader, said the HAER program and the Trace itself have a lot in common.

“It was created for the same purpose as the Natchez Trace, as a make-work project for the New Deal,” Halsey said, noting that both were created about the same time 60 years ago. “It’s like they came back and met each other.”