By the numbers:
- 216 miles, from Shreveport LA to Vicksburg MS – 3609 total miles for the trip.
- highest temp: 95 but our weather app said the “real feel” was 105 and it “really felt” that hot.
- One new state, Mississippi, but no new license plates. 10 total states for the trip, plus I think we could see Arkansas from our most northern point today.
- Two new national parks: Poverty Point National Monument and Vicksburg National Military Park – 20 total park sites for the trip.
- about 12 – the number of different electronic and/or battery powered devices I worried about when a thunderstorm rolled through and knocked the power out at our hotel for a little while.
- 535 feet – the highest elevation above sea level in the entire state of Louisiana, near Shreveport where we started this morning. That’s about the same height at the top of the hill we live on in Seattle.
We tend to learn in school about the early middle eastern cultures, like the Egyptians that we think of as early precursors to our modern culture. Here in Louisiana, at about the same time as the Egyptian pyramid builders there was a mound building culture that was probably the precursor to many of the later Native American cultures on this continent. The Mounds they build were as high as 750 feet and huge. The major mound was in the shape of a bird though you can only tell that from aerial photography today. Yet these folks planned and build this and very intricate other patterns of mounds on which they both lived and grew crops without any way to see their work from above. Some sophisticated math was involved. The mound was built by carrying baskets full of soil from nearby areas up the mounds and building the structure layer by layer. With baskets of soil weighing about 50 pounds each the estimate is that it took about 15 million baskets full to build just the one mound.
Also, the culture involved major networks of trade up and down the Mississippi, with rocks found in this area known to have originated as far away as Iowa, Illinois and even above the Great Lakes region in Canada. All of this occurred 2000 years B.C. I had no idea. Later generations of this same mound building culture built the Effigy Mounds in Eastern Iowa.
You can tell you are in the Civil War History part of the country when your hotel has a canon as a lawn decoration.
We will see more of Vicksburg tomorrow, but one last tidbit related to elevation. All across Louisiana the entire state seemed very flat. Suddenly we cross the Mississippi and on the this side of the river the city of Vicksburg is quite hilly. In fact the cliffs by the river are about 300 feet high, one of the reasons Vicksburg was the last stronghold on the Mississippi for the South in the Civil War.