The state of Mississippi has so much to offer, from its beautiful landscapes, unmatched hospitality, and so much more. Still, one of the Magnolia State’s most impressive attributes is its remarkable history. Incredibly steeped in history, legend, and lore, Mississippi is one of the most prominent states in the nation regarding historical sites.
No matter what direction you take — to the Delta, the Gulf Coast, the North Central Hills, the Appalachian Foothills, or the Piney Woods — you will be met by the footsteps of our forefathers and sights and landmarks that have helped to write the fascinating history of our state and country.
If you’re up for a weekend adventure or on a mission to see as many historical sites as you can in Mississippi, we’re here to help you. Although this is clearly not an all-inclusive list of historical highlights in the state, here are a few top historical sites you want to take advantage of.
Natchez “On Top of the Hill” Historic District—In the city on the bluff overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River, this charming town has a very peaceful vibe and gorgeous flora and fauna surrounding the majestic antebellum homes that date back to the late 18th and 19th centuries. While here, take one of the many walking tours through the lush, beautiful area, tour the historic homes, walk or drive across the iconic Mississippi River Bridge, and take a walk to Natchez Under the Hill and take a closer look at the Mississippi River.
Windsor Ruins—This hauntingly beautiful landmark in Port Gibson has a remarkable yet sad ending worthy of a Southern Gothic novel. Built-in 1861, this antebellum Greek Revival mansion was the home of wealthy planter and businessman Smith Coffee Daniell II. This beautiful two-story mansion had 23 rooms. The home was used as a hospital during the Civil War but would later meet a tragic demise. On February 17, 1890, a lit cigarette was carelessly tossed into a trash can, leading to a fire that engulfed the home almost entirely. All that is left are the columns and some of the walls on the lower level. However, the Windsor Ruins are regaled by the National Register of Historic Places as one of the premier examples of antebellum architecture.
The Emerald Mound Site–Built by the Mississippians, an indigenous culture that lived in the Natchez area approximately from 1200 to 1730 AD, this pre-Columbian center was used for religious and political ceremonial events. This impressive site measures 770 feet by 435 feet at the base. With a height of 35 feet, it is the second-largest ceremonial mound in the nation. Check out the museum’s artifacts and take in some of the smaller banks in the area.
The Old Capitol Museum — This free museum in Jackson has a lot of history. It was built in 1839 and is where many of the most legendary legislative actions took place, including Mississippi’s announcement of secession from the Union in 1861 and the documentation of the 1868 and 1890 state constitutions. The beautiful, gleaming structure is truly an awe-inspiring sight to see. The history of the state is displayed throughout these hallowed halls. From the interactive exhibits to the artifacts from the past, this is a definite “must-see” on your tour of Mississippi’s historical sites. Also, don’t miss out on the Mississippi Hall of Fame, which honors some of the state’s most distinguished citizens.
Vicksburg National Military Park — This historical site is considered by many historians to be the location of the “most significant battle of the American Civil War — The Battle of Vicksburg.” Take a memorable walk or drive through the battlefields where so many young lives were lost and explore the monuments to the men and the battles they fought in this 1,800-acre park. Visit the Visitor Center to observe the many artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of this turbulent time in our state. Don’t miss out on seeing the impressive USS Cairo, the Union gunboat that played a pivotal role in the Vicksburg Campaign.
The Biloxi Lighthouse — This beautiful, historic structure has quite a history. In 1847, Mississippi Representative Jefferson Davis signed into legislation for three Mississippi Sound lighthouses, and the Biloxi Lighthouse has the distinction of having several female lightkeepers at the helm as the lighthouse was operated by civilians from 1848 until 1939 when the U.S. Coast Guard took over the operations. One of the most impressive ladies to keep the lights burning brightly was Maria Younghans, who held the keeper of the light post for 53 years. There are guided tours daily from 9-10 am, and guests are treated to a short documentary of the lighthouse’s history by Biloxi’s own Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959.
This is just a mere sampling of the many historical sites in Mississippi. We could go on for days about all the history that has happened in the Magnolia State. Mississippi is truly a history buff’s dream.