By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Natchez Trace Parkway is upgrading its Native American exhibits and signage, thanks to a federal grant.
Superintendent Cam Sholly said many of the exhibits and signs are about 30 years old.
“A lot of them are incorrect,” he said. “We’re working with the tribes to design new signs with up-to-date information. We’re working … to get the most accurate information within the parkway corridor.”
The project is funded by a $268,000 grant from the National Scenic Byways program. It will take multiple years to complete and will upgrade 24 wayside exhibits mostly in Mississippi.
The parkway staff also is working on updating other non-Native American exhibits.
“It’s a lot of work on a lot of fronts,” Sholly said.
The parkway also got a $130,000 grant to make upgrades to the bathroom and exhibits at Pharr Mounds, which is about 20 minutes north of the visitors center in Tupelo. The unisex bathroom was built in the 1960s, Sholly said.
The project also might relocate the bathroom slightly so it is out of the way of the mounds.
Sholly hopes to have the project completed by next summer.
The parkway received an additional $148,000 to replace a small bathroom and ranger contact station in Colbert Ferry in Alabama. And, the parkway is working on revamping attractions near the Natchez end of the Trace.
Plus, the parkway staff is installing signs on the Trace that welcome visitors to the Mississippi Hills national heritage area.
All of the infrastructure improvements are part of Sholly’s goal to increase visitation by improving the Trace.
“A lot of this work that’s been done has really helped bring up the visitor experience,” he said.