May 18, 1938
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially signed the Natchez Trace Parkway into law on May 18, 1938. However, the historic route from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, has been used for thousands of years. The trail, which runs for about 30 miles through Lauderdale and Colbert counties in northwest Alabama, was used for untold years by herds of bison and other grazing animals. Native American hunting parties took advantage of the well-worn trail and followed the herds. Earlier explorers and European settlers no doubt improved the path, widening it enough for wagons to pass. As travel and trade increased, a series of inns and trading posts sprang up along the route and settlements quickly followed. While the road was abandoned following the advent of steamboats and the completion of a shorter route between Nashville and New Orleans in the early 1800s, the federal government began construction of the Natchez Trace Parkway scenic road in the late 1930s. The National Park Service maintains numerous historic sites along the parkway and in some locations remnants of the original route may still be seen.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.