By Regina Butler/Pontotoc Progress
PONTOTOC – Pontotoc County stands on the brink of opening up a whole new chapter of history to those who want to follow the last steps of Meriwether Lewis.
Some 50 to 75 people recently met to show their support and learn more about the possibility of having markers throughout the county.
And it’s not just the history aspect, but the potential boon for tourists to travel through Pontotoc as they learn of the late governor’s last days that has many smiling with enthusiasm.
The markers would show the trail of the famous explorer en route to Washington, D.C., who was killed at Grinders Stand in Tennessee before making it to the nation’s capital.
Dr. Bryant Boswell of Jackson, who is a noted historian of Lewis and Clark, briefed the crowd on why he wants to see the project completed.
“This is geared at two things,” Dr. Boswell said. “One, the education of the next generation, and two, the preservation of the trail. This is for the state of Mississippi. Especially for the northeast section.”
Boswell said the trail in Pontotoc would follow straight down Highway 15 to Houlka, which was the southern most point Meriwether Lewis traveled before he turned north again toward Tennessee.
Jim Mallory with the Lewis and Clark Trust explained the importance of the meeting and stressed the fact that the trail “will not take one inch of personal property.”
“We will use already existing highways and waterways,” he said. “There will be no eminent domain and it won’t cost a ton of money.”
Mallory said that each county that the trail runs through would be responsible for the markers that are in their county.
“This is democracy at its best,” Mallory said. “We are letting our elected officials know what we want to see in the Lewis and Clark trail.”
Mallory went on to explain the significance of telling the whole story of Lewis and Clark.
“We don’t tell the American Revolution from Valley Forge on, we tell the whole story. We tell what led up to Valley Forge. This story is as important as the Revolutionary War,” Mallory said.
Mallory said having the trail marked will give teachers “that teaching moment as students walk on historic ground.”
Over the next month, the public is invited to go to this website, parkplanning.nps. gov/eastern-legacy-srs and look at the proposed map and give any comments.