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042008 Hattiesburg, Vicksburg, And Beyond On The Hypotenuse Trail


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#1 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 09:26 PM

Two lanes rule! Two terrific towns off the beaten path, either of which would have made the day a winner.

To set the stage, I traveled today between Hattiesburg, Mississippi and a McGehee Arkansas, crossing the Mississippi at Vicksburg, heading north on US 65. I played the 1940’s recording of Dad singing “Old Man River” beside the mighty Mississippi. I wish he could have been there to hear it on the wind. I visited the Vicksburg National Balttlefield Park, and lots more.

The only sour note was that the US80 bridge across the Mississippi at Vicksburg, which my map showed as open, is long closed, so I was forced to take the interstate across the river. However, I maintained semi virginity by backtracking and picking up US 80 at the barrier on the west side, thus committing only a technical violation of the” no interstates” provision of my contract with the Hypotenuse Trail Association. Keep in mind that the real trail blazers of old were frequently forced to cross rivers on rail trestles, which do not qualify in my book as roads! So save your “ Ah, Ha’s.” I am just following in their tire tracks.

Let me start with my second town find…Utica, Mississippi, about 6 miles from the Natchez Trace and under 25 miles southeast of Vicksburg. The town is filled with vintage southern store buildings, and seems blessed with a man and wife who have dedicated themselves to bringing life back to the village. I know this, because as I started taking pictures of buildings, Kevin stopped his lawn mower and walked across the street to greet me.

He has purchased some of the 1800’s town relics and is proceeding to do authentic restorations. The product of his and his wife’s efforts is evident in several buildings, and in the fact that Utica has attracted resources and support from state and local sources to help share its charms and history with others.

Like I said yesterday, American has nothing to fear. People are making things happen for the better everywhere. When I say “This land is your land…..” it is in good hands.

A photo of the results Keven and his wife have thus far achieved follows:





It is Sunday afternoon in Utica, and small town life isn’t rushed. You savor the passing scene.




The first town I “found” today was Georgetown, Mississippi. I know nothing of its fortunes or history, but it is the 1940’s town I was seeking on this trip. The business activities have moved out to the “highway” and the former downtown is completely closed down, as though they boarded up the windows and went home. It looks like the Georgetown Bank may have been the last to leave.

And at the end of the street is the park, and it is a 1940’s park, complete with gazebo, and swings and the kind of playground equipment that I knew as a kid…before you couldn’t afford the liability insurance.

I’d guess that downtown Georgetown is not going to be resurrected like Utica. In fact, it should be preserved. It is as close as I am likely ever to come again in my life to seeing the Main Street of 1940. This is Mayberry and Main Street as it really was. You don’t see trees planted in the sidewalk, no hanging flower baskets, no fancy smancy lamp posts, no festival banners….just the water tower, simple, small stores in a line, and on the corner, the bank…. big, strong and apparently secure….and the flag flying on the town flagpole. Wow!

And the playground has all the 1940’s stuff, except a teeter totter.

Here are a few photos of old town Georgetown, Mississippi:









Vicksburg was great, especially the Civil War history. This is practically a pilgrimage site! People were driving and even walking the 16 mile tour in the Vicksburg Battlefield National Park with passion and anticipation. Frankly, it is difficult not to be moved emotionally in some way when you are on such historic ground.

The US 80 bridge over the Mississippi at Vicksburg I thought I was going to take when I took this photo! Look beyond it to the bridge I had to take….nice too, but on the “I way”





Along US 65 at Lake Providence in far Northeast Louisiana



That's it for this evening.

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave

#2 Alex Burr - hester_nec

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:54 AM

Consider yourself lucky you didn't have access to the old bridge at Vicksburg. Back in (yeah, yeah, here we go with a "back in" story!!) 1958, when I was stationed in Kingsville, TX, I was assigned, along with another great pretender to bring a couple big Navy trucks from Navy Millington to Kingsville.

Looked to me like the best route was down 61 to Vicksburg and then across the river. Damn that old bridge was narrow - I met a big civilian truck coming the other way and we both left parts of our left side mirrors in the middle of the bridge!!!

Seems like early bridge builders thought narrow was the way to go - try the bridges at Cairo sometime. Turn your hair gray early.

There's lots and lots of those old 1940 towns here in the south - Mississippi probably has more than anybody else. Some just havn't faded yet. I can show you U S 61 (OLD 61) between Memphis and Clarksdale where on the map there are a bunch of towns shown - like Robinsonville, Dundee, Newport and a couple others - that are on the map, but are now just a dusty crossroad that you can't identify as a town. They are - but they aren't.

Keep those great reports coming down the pike - we are enjoying every word.


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Alex Burr
Memphis, TN

#3 mobilene

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 08:13 AM

Dave, I'm living vicariously this week through your road reports! I especially appreaciate how you're finding, apparently without much trouble, plenty of good things to write about, such as the couple who've taken it upon themselves to restore their whole town.

Your photos of Georgetown need only be printed with a linen finish to look like period postcards. Well, except for the obvious decay. But you get my meaning. I may have to go explore Mississippi someday.

BTW, I looked up the US 80 bridge on Google Maps and see that a building appears to have been built across the approach. I imagine that was quite a surprise when you got there!

Looking forward to future reports!

jim

Edited by mobilene, 21 April 2008 - 08:14 AM.


#4 DennyG

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:54 AM

Although the automobile lanes of the old US-80 bridge have apparently been closed since 1998, Delorme, Garmin, and Google will all route traffic across it. Perhaps you could have bounced across on the railroad ties for an ultra-retro experience.

Nice coverage of Utica & Georgetown. I've never been to either but I now know they're worth visiting. On a hunch, I did a web search for Utica & Kevin and found this Cambridge Antiques site. There is a link on the "About Us" page to a newspaper article from a few years back which I'm guessing is about your new friend.

And now, a suggestion. The display sequence of topics in each sub-forum is by response date so that when someone comments on a post from an earlier date, it moves to the front of the line. After few more days, it's likely that even you won't be able to remember whether the "White Sands..." post came before or after the "...Gulf Coast..." post without some head scratching. Including the date or a number in the Topic Title, will let future readers easily reconstruct the sequence of posts and would even help dedicated "real-time" readers handle things when they come along after a reply or two has been posted.

#5 usroadman

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 03:33 PM

Looking at the US 80 crossing using the Bird's Eye view on msn.com, it kind of looks like that house was a toll building. Also, you can see construction vehicles on the bridge, especially on the Louisiana side. It looks like they were ripping up the old road on the long viaduct on the Louisiana side. Depending on the direction of view, sometimes the deck is present and sometimes it's torn up. Too bad, it looks like a cool bridge (at least as long as you're not trying to pass a big truck coming the other way).

#6 BabyBoomerBob

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 06:44 AM

Seems like early bridge builders thought narrow was the way to go - try the bridges at Cairo sometime. Turn your hair gray early.

I've driven those bridges at Cairo:) They're narrow as all get out, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat:) The scaredest I ever was on a bridge was on the US 12 bridge across the Missouri at Mobridge, SD. The problem there was the wind! I was driving a little Mazda hatchback and I was fighting the wheel the whole way across.



Hudsonly,
Alex Burr
Memphis, TN
[/quote]

It is too late to turn my hair gray "early." Had I realized the bridge at Vicksburg was closed, I would have crossed further north...but I'll do that next time!

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave




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