August 9-13, 2014, Vidalia, LA and Natchez, MS
We left Pass Christian Saturday morning and headed west to the Mississippi River then turned north to Natchez, MS. We are staying at River View RV Park and Resort in Vidalia, LA which is just across the river from Natchez. This is a very nice resort sitting right along the Mississippi with large, grassy sites. Just as we started across the river it started pouring rain so we waited until it let up some to get our 5th wheel unhooked and set up. Our site is really nice – long and wide with a cement pad and lots of grass.
Best of all we have a view of the river so we can watch the barges going up and down river. After getting set up and having a late lunch we went to the visitor’s centers in both Vidalia and Natchez (which are just across the river from each other) to get some info on the area. It rained most of the afternoon and evening which cooled it off a little but we still had to run the air conditioner all night.
Sunday we crossed the river to Natchez to see some of the beautiful old mansions. We stopped at Auburn House but it was not open on Sunday.
We toured Stanton Hall, a Greek Revival mansion, built in 1857 for cotton magnate Frederick Stanton. The five levels of this house include a nearly 17 ft tall first-floor hallway, three parlors and six bedrooms. Descendents of Frederick Stanton lived here into the early 20th century. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the house but it is beautiful with Italian marble mantels, massive gold-leaf mirrors and beautiful chandeliers.
We also toured Rosalie Mansion which was built between 1820 and 1923 for Peter and Eliza Little. The mansion was purchased in 1857 by Andrew and Eliza Wilson. In 1863 Rosalie became headquarters for the Union Army under General Walter Gresham who protected the house and its contents – which was very unusual. After the Civil War, Rosalie was returned intact to the Wilson family. It remained in the Wilson family until 1938 when it was purchased by the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Again, we were not allowed to take any pictures inside this beautiful mansion.
On the second floor balcony we could look out over the back of the property to the Mississippi River. The property originally had 22 acres along the river but now only has about 8 acres.
We were looking forward to a river boat ride and were disappointed to learn that there are no longer river boat cruises in this area. The only river boat here is the Isle of Capri Casino and it no longer leaves the dock.
Rain was predicted for Monday so we decided not to do any touring. Rex took the opportunity to get some repair chores done on the 5th wheel. Monday afternoon the storm moved in and we were under severe storm and flash flood warnings. It rained most of the evening and we had quite a thunder and lightning show. After the rain it was cool enough to shut off the air conditioner and open the windows - it was really nice to sleep with the windows open once again.
Tuesday morning we woke to sunshine and 75% humidity in the 5th wheel – the air conditioner went back on! We drove about 30 minutes northwest of Vidalia to tour Frogmore Cotton Plantation – an 1800 acre working cotton plantation. We took a tour of the plantation which contrasted a working cotton plantation and gin of the early 1800’s with a modern cotton plantation and gin of today. After viewing a video about the history of the plantation we went through a slave cabin. One side of the cabin depicted how it would look when slaves worked the plantation. The other side of the cabin depicted how it would look after the Civil War when share croppers worked the plantation.
Behind the slave cabin was a large cotton field where we saw cotton blooms. The cotton plant is a relative of the hibiscus plant and the blooms are beautiful. The cotton blooms are white for 24 hours then they turn pink for 24 hours then the boll starts to form. After 30 days the boll opens up and the cotton pops out.
We then toured the 1800’s cotton gin that was powered by an 1884 Munger’s steam engine. The Munger’s gin was a great improvement on Whitney’s gin and greatly increased the amount of cotton that could be ginned in a day. The modern computerized gin that the plantation uses today can gin 900 bales of cotton per day.
We enjoyed touring Frogmore’s and learned a lot about how cotton is farmed and ginned.
After lunch we toured Longwood House in Natchez. Longwood is the largest octagonal house in America. The mansion was designed in 1859 and construction began in 1860 for wealthy cotton planter Haller Nutt and his wife Julia. Work on the mansion progressed rapidly until April, 1861. When the Civil War broke out the craftsmen, who were from Philadelphia, dropped their tools and fled north. With local workers, Nutt completed the basement level as living quarters for his family. He died in 1864 but Julia and their children lived on in the basement until her death in 1897. The house was never finished and is maintained in its unfinished state by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. Many of the family’s original furnishings are displayed in the basement where our tour began. The furnishings were beautiful but we were not allowed to take any pictures in the basement area.
We then went to the main level which was not finished but we could get a good idea of what it was suppose to look like. We could look up at the great octagonal rotunda which is open to the entire six stories of the house. All of the rooms were arranged in a circle around the rotunda atrium and had a door to the veranda.
We enjoyed touring this fantastic mansion and can only imagine how beautiful it would have been if it had been finished.
Wednesday we woke to much cooler weather - the forecast is for mid 80’s instead of the mid 90’s and less humidity – Yeah! We have not been able to take the dogs for very longs walks for a while because of the heat and humidity so we took advantage of the cooler temperatures this morning and took the dogs for a walk along the Vidalia River Walk. This nice wide cement path starts at our RV resort and follows the river. The area around the path is a park with grass, park benches and even a park bench swing. We walked about a mile and a half to the Visitor Center where we sat on a bench in the shade and watched a barge go down river. It was starting to get hot so we headed back to the 5th wheel where we cranked up the air conditioner again. We stayed home this afternoon and gave the dogs a good brushing, did some reading and relaxed. It cooled off in the late evening and we were able to sleep with the windows open and enjoy a nice cool breeze.
We have enjoyed our visit to the Vidalia/Natchez area.