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Adams County board seeks federal funds for new road to Emerald Mound
from Staff Reports - NEWS
August 6, 2019 -

By John Mott Coffey 

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Adams County Board of Supervisors is seeking federal funds for a road it wants built for visitors driving to Emerald Mound near the Natchez Trace. The plan also calls for a second new road around the historic Indian site for area residents.

The proposed access road has been on the drawing board for more than a decade, said Natchez attorney Walter Brown, who’s handling the project for the board. He noted land for the roads have been acquired by the government after county supervisors reached an agreement in 2008 with the National Park Service to move forward on the project.

“We’ve been working on this for awhile….It’s definitely needed,” said Adams County board President Calvin Butler, whose supervisor district includes the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The proposed roads would give visitors a more direct route to the historic site and provide people who live in the rural area a better road to get to their homes. The existing road to Emerald Mound is in bad shape.

While money for the land purchases has been provided, funds for the access roads have not yet been awarded by the federal government. Adams County supervisors have applied for funds in the past, most recently in 2017, but have been turned down, Brown said.

The county board on Monday approved again applying for the federal funds. While roadbuilding costs are uncertain, it could be about $8 million for the roads and other related infrastructure, said Brown, who’s been working for several years on the project for the county and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

The long-discussed plans are to build an entrance road from the Natchez Trace straight to the front of the Indian mound and another that loops behind the national historic site. The current road meanders from the Trace to the side of the mound. 

The federal government sets aside funds for transportation projects that provide access to federal lands. MDOT has purchased about $1 million worth of land needed for the new Emerald Mound entrance road.

Located about 10 miles north of Natchez, Emerald Mound is the second-largest Indian temple mound in the United States, according to the National Park Service. It was built and used between the years 1250 and 1600 by the forerunners of the Natchez Indians.

In an effort to preserve it, the NPS’ Natchez Trace Parkway in 2017 removed the stairs that led to the top of one of its secondary mounds sitting on the larger one. This was prompted by Native American tribes wanting to prevent public access to the top because of the sacred nature of the site, according to a 2017 NPS report. The area beneath the stairs also constantly eroded and had the potential to destroy the mound’s integrity.

Actually located in Jefferson County near the Trace, the eight-acre, 35-foot high Emerald Mound has two secondary mounds on top of the primary mound, bringing the total height to about 60 feet, according to the National Park Service. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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