Our next stop along the Lower Mississippi River was Vicksburg, Mississippi, a charming town dating back to 1719. The French were the first inhabitants and by 1719 and built Fort Saint-Peirre on the bluffs above the Yazoo River to protect their fur trading post from Native Americans.
Several years later, the Chotaw Nation laid claim to the area. The Spanish were next, and by 1790, a small military outpost had been founded. Americans took over the small fort eight years later and the area quickly grew quickly, incorporating in 1825 as Vicksburg in honor of Newitt Vick, a Methodist minister.
During the Civil War, on July 4, 1863, Vicksburg was the site of a 47 day siege that ultimately ended in Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendering to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. While July 4 was known as Independence Day across America, the citizens of Vicksburg viewed that date as a day of defeat and did not celebrate the 4th of July again until 1945.
On a lighter note, Vicksburg was also the location where local candy store owner Joseph Biedenharn made history on March 12, 1894 when he bottled the first batch of Coca-Cola.
Today, Vicksburg is a charming city with many beautiful homes and a pleasant historic downtown with attractive boutiques. My favorite feature of the main downtown shopping street was the jazz playing over speakers placed in the sidewalk landscaping. Nice touch!
As we did in Helena, we enjoyed Vicksburg by riding one of American Queen Steamboat Company’s four hop on/ hop off buses. For the first four hours of each port day, the buses are each staffed with a local expert who narrates the circuit, in between the designated stops.
Mom and I have chosen to ride the full circuit once to hear the entire narration and plan out the stops for the second trip through. In Vicksburg, one of the scheduled trips worth hopping off for was Church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1869. In this church there were several beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows, made in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s that were later installed.
Another thing we really enjoyed about Vicksburg was the waterfront area where the American Queen was moored. Along the flood wall, there were beautifully painted murals depicting the history of Vicksburg; each one with a plaque explaining the mural. Walking along the sidewalk to see the murals was a wonderful way to learn about the history of Vicksburg.