Founded in 1716, Natchez is the oldest city on the Mississippi River.
The first route into Natchez was the Natchez Trace, originally a buffalo trail and later used by Native Americans and early settlers. Flatboat men plied their craft down river to Natchez or New Orleans, sold their goods and boats, and walked or rode wagons north toward home on the Trace. With the advent of steamboat travel in the early 19th century, the Trace fell into disuse. Now administered by the National Park Service, it runs 450 miles between Nashville and Natchez, a green and peaceful route dotted with interpretive exhibits, 18th-century inns, and picnic sites.
Occupied by the mound-building and sun-worshipping Natchez Indians for centuries before the French built a fort and established a settlement here in 1716, Natchez was under British rule from 1763, controlled by the Spanish from 1779 to 1798, and was the site of the state’s first assembly in 1817.
Tobacco and indigo were the initial crops, but the introduction of the Whitney in 1795, combined with the already established institution of slavery, revolutionized cotton production and brought great wealth to Natchez planters and merchants. Much of that wealth produced grand city and country estates ranking among the most beautiful in America. Today, Natchez boasts more antebellum structures than any other city of its size in the United States, with 13 National Landmarks and over 1,000 buildings on the National Resister. Some of those properties have been owned and occupied by the same families for over 150 years.
Natchez is also home to dozens of African-American heritage sites, including historic churches, neighborhoods established by freedom after the Civil War, the boyhood home of internationally acclaimed author Richard Wright, and the Forks of the Road, site of the second-largest slave market in the South. In the 19th century, Natchez was home to John Roy Lynch, the first African-American to hold office in Mississippi and the first to chair a major political party convention; Hiram Revels, first African-American elected to either house of Congress; and Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a classically trained African-American singer who performed for Queen Victoria.
Downtown Natchez offers great shopping — antiques, unique gifts, and bookstores — plus an exceptional number of casual and fine dining restaurants and a cooking school. In Natchez, where Native American, African-American and European cultures have blended to make Natchez a unique place, we’re proud that progress is a neighbor of the past. We’re easy to find at the lower end of the Trace on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.