Stretching out along more than 2,300 miles in length from Lake Itasca in Minnesota all the way down to its delta in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is the longest river in the United States and one of the best-known and most iconic rivers in the world. It almost splits the entire United States in two, being a natural boundary and border for many states, regions, and cities, and passes through all sorts of stunning landscapes along the way. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.American Queen Steamboat Company - 5 Night New Years Celebration - American Queen
3.American Queen Steamboat Company - 8 Night A Taste of the True South - American Queen
Best Mississippi River Cruises
- Overview, Photo: Alex Krassel/stock.adobe.com
- American Queen Steamboat Company - 5 Night New Years Celebration - American Queen, Photo: CrackerClips/stock.adobe.com
- American Queen Steamboat Company - 8 Night A Taste of the True South - American Queen, Photo: luke/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: james_pintar/stock.adobe.com
More Ideas & Things to See: Vicksburg National Military Park
Located on 1,852 acres across Vicksburg, MS, and Delta, Louisiana, Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the Battle of Vicksburg, a 47-day siege that resulted in the city’s surrender to the Union Army during the American Civil War, as well as the greater Vicksburg Campaign that preceded the battle.
During the American Civil War, the Mississippi River was an important battleground between Union and Confederate troops, as the river served as a major backbone of the country’s economic transportation. Following the South’s secession from the States, the river was closed for navigation by the Confederacy, which threatened to cripple northern economic activity.
By 1982, the Mississippi city of Vicksburg became a crucial strategic battlefield for the Union’s hopes to regain control of the river’s lower portion, as well as a major lynch pin in crippling the economy of key Confederate city Richmond. A campaign headed toward Vicksburg, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, embarked in December of 1862. For the following six months, Union and Confederate armies clashed throughout the Mississippi area, culminating in the 47-day Battle of Vicksburg, which began on May 18. The campaign and battle resulted in more than 48,000 casualties before the Union’s victory on July 4.
In February of 1899, the Vicksburg National Military Park was established to commemorate the battle site, which was transferred to the supervision of the National Park Service in 1933. In the 1950s, control of a section of the park was transferred to the city of Vicksburg, which permitted the construction of Interstate 20. In October of 1966, the park, along with all other NPS historic areas, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, Vicksburg National Military Park encompasses 1,852 acres across Vicksburg and nearby Delta, Louisiana, of which 1,729 are federally owned. More than 1,300 historic markers and monuments commemorate important sites connected to the Vicksburg Campaign and the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers that died in the campaign’s battles. Notable among the memorial collection is the Illinois State Memorial, which contains one step commemorating each day of the 47-day siege. The original Surrender Monument, a stone tower which marked the site of Generals Grant and Pemberton’s surrender discussions, is also displayed at the park’s Visitor Center, which also showcases an historic 12-pound Howitzer Cannon alongside a number of exhibits about the campaign’s battles. A 20-minute orientation film, Here Brothers Fought, is shown on the half hour daily at the Center’s auditorium.
At the USS Cairo Museum, the recovered and restored USS Cairo gunboat is displayed. Nicknamed the “Hardluck Ironclad,” the Cairo was one of seven 13-cannon Union gunboats constructed for the American Civil War and named for towns along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In December 1862, the ship, led by Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., was sunk by Confederate forces during a mission on the Yazoo River, becoming the first ship in United States history to be sunk by an electronic torpedo. In 1956, several historians began efforts to locate the ship from the Yazoo’s waters, recovering it in 1964. The vessel was transferred to the park in 1977 and is displayed today at the museum, which also features collections of recovered ship artifacts and exhibits recounting life on board Cairo.
The park also includes the 116-acre Vicksburg National Cemetery, which holds the remains of more than 18,000 military service members, including Union and Confederate troops buried between 1866 and 1874. A Greek-Revival-style Antebellum mansion, used as General Pemberton’s Headquarters during the Civil War, is used for public special events and private rentals. Across the river in Delta, Louisiana, the remaining portions of Grant’s Canal may also be explored. A paved tour road and a variety of hiking trails provide access to important park sites, including the Al Scheller Primitive Hiking Trail, which provides perspective on the period-accurate hiking conditions Civil War troops faced during occupation of the area.
Ongoing Programs and Education
A variety of guided and self-guided tour options are available for exploration of the park’s extensive monument collection, including audio tours, cell phone tours, and group tours with licensed park tour guides. Educational tour packages for elementary and secondary students are also available, incorporating Mississippi state curriculum standards. Guided tours must be booked in advance due to tour popularity. During the summer, weeklong Junior Ranger camps are hosted at the park for students ages 8-16, encouraging volunteerism and park stewardship. Living history demonstrations and conversations are also offered throughout the summer months, offering Civil-War-era weapons demonstrations and opportunities to speak with park historians about relevant cultural topics.
3201 Clay St, Vicksburg, MS 39183, Phone: 601-636-0583
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More Ideas & Things to See: Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center
Located in Corinth, MS, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center is located within the Corinth Battlefield Unit of Shiloh National Military Park and commemorates the city’s strategic 1862 siege by Union forces during the American Civil War. The city of Corinth, Mississippi was founded in 1853 as Cross City, as it marked the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and Memphis & Charleston Railroads.
Its name was changed to Corinth upon suggestion by local newspaper editor W. E. Gibson, who pointed out the city’s similarities to the crossroads town in Greece of the same name. As a major commerce and transportation center in the American Southeast, Corinth’s location along the banks of the Tennessee River made it a strategic Confederate headquarters during the American Civil War and a primary target for the Union Army’s campaign in the South. Following the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, which saw nearby Pittsburg Landing fall to the Union Army, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard made a retreat to Corinth, which was soon followed by Union Major General Henry W. Halleck. Due to the extremely violent nature of the Battle of Shiloh, Beauregard made the choice to abandon the town upon Halleck’s strategic approach, which involved the cautious construction of entrenchments around the city for more than a month prior to seizure. Due to Halleck’s approach strategy, the Union occupation of the city has become known as the Siege of Corinth. Later Confederate attempts in October of the same year to recapture the city, which proved unsuccessful after two days of fighting, are referred to as the Battle of Corinth.
Following the American Civil War, Corinth was established as the county seat of Alcorn County and grew into a small urban area, though the surrounding landscape of streams, hills, and open farmland has not been changed significantly. In December of 1894, nearly 4,000 acres of the area surrounding Corinth and Pittsburg Landing was preserved as part of Shiloh National Military Park, commemorating the Battle of Shiloh and Siege of Corinth. Control of the park was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, and in 1966, the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the 15,000-square-foot Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center was opened inside the park’s Corinth Battlefield Unit area.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center serves as an entrance point for Shiloh National Military Park’s Corinth Battlefield Unit, located near the historic Battery Robinett. As one of two extant earthwork entrenchments constructed by the Union Army following the Siege of Corinth, Battery Robinett is highlighted as part of a permanent exhibit on the grounds of the Interpretive Center, reconstructed to display its condition during the October 1862 Battle of Corinth. A number of monuments and interpretive displays detail the events of the Siege and Battle, and broken equipment and bronze replicas are presented to mimic the battery’s battle condition. An obelisk stands nearby in tribute to the 2nd Texas Infantry and Colonel William P. Rogers, the Confederate forces who attempted to seize the battery, and several gravestones mark the burial sites of Union and Confederate soldiers.
Nearby, the living sculpture Stream of History commemorates two centuries of American history, using water flow to depict the flow of time from the American Revolution through the present day. Cut stones within the sculpture list key Revolutionary and Civil War battles in chronological order, structured as building blocks meant to resemble the nation’s construction and shaping through military conflict. The water sculpture travels downward symbolically, tracing the events leading up to the nation’s split with the secession of the Confederacy.
Inside the Center, a 75-seat auditorium shows several orientation films, including the award-winning “Shiloh: Fiery Trial” and short films about the occupation and Battle of Corinth. A public research library is available for visitor exploration, and a small gift shop and bookstore sell Civil-War-themed memorabilia. Museum exhibits include interactive multimedia displays, focusing on the city’s role in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Particular focus is given to the city’s role in African-American history through the Corinth Contraband Camp, which served part of an escape route for plantation slaves seeking Union protection. A life-sized diorama also showcases the complete network of earthwork constructions leading to the Union’s seizure of the city.
Though no formal tours of the Corinth Battlefield Unit are offered through the Center, two driving tour brochures are available at the information desk, highlighting major sites connected to the Siege and Battle of Corinth. A tour map of historic downtown Corinth sites and living history museums is also offered. A Junior Ranger program presented in conjunction with the park’s Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center offers participation badges and certificates to young visitors upon completion of educational park activities.
501 W Linden St, Corinth, MS 38834, Phone: 662-287-9273
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More Ideas & Things to See: B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
Located in Indianola, MS, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center celebrates the history of America’s indigenous music through a focus on influential blues singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer B.B. King. Born on September 16, 1925 on a cotton plantation near Indianola, Mississippi, Riley B. King developed an early interest in music as a result of participation in local gospel church choirs, purchasing his first guitar by the age of 12.
While working as a tractor driver throughout the early 1940s, King became a fan of the Arkansas radio broadcast “King Biscuit Time” and decided to pursue a career as a radio blues musician. Beginning in 1948, his regular appearances on West Memphis’ KWEM and Memphis’ WDIA radio stations earned him the title of the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” a nickname which eventually developed into his stage name B.B. Following a record deal with Los Angeles’ RPM Records, King rose to prominence in the 1950s as one of the leading American blues performers, developing a reputation as a tireless touring performer throughout the later half of the 20th century. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is remembered today as the “King of the Blues,” noted for his innovative style of electric guitar solos.
In 2008, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center was opened in King’s hometown of Indianola as a means of enhancing community awareness of blues music and its impact on Mississippi Delta cultural history through the legacy of King’s work. Included in the museum’s development was the restoration of a 1940s cotton gin building that King worked at during his residency in the area. Through exhibits on King’s musical accomplishments and the achievements of other prominent Delta Blues artists, the Museum aims to preserve and promote the musical and social culture of the Mississippi Delta area. Following his death in 2015 at the age of 89, King was buried at the Museum and a memorial garden was created in honor of his life and legacy.
An extensive collection of artifacts related to King’s life and music form the basis of the museum’s collections, which are displayed in interactive exhibits focusing on various aspects of King’s career and the history of the Delta Blues. A high-definition Theatre serves as an orientation point for visitors, offering showings of several award-winning short films on topics related to King’s legacy. Three main exhibit galleries chronicle King’s early years in the Mississippi Delta, his rise to fame as a radio performer in Memphis in the early 1950s, and his ascension to international blues icon throughout the 1960s and beyond. A variety of hands-on multimedia exhibits focus on the social and cultural forces that shaped King’s early career, including the shift in African-American musical performance in the 1930s and 1940s away from traditional gospel music to secular popular genres. Firsthand accounts from King’s friends and colleagues are highlighted, along with music memorabilia and artifacts from other prominent 20th-century Delta Blues artists emerging from the region.
In addition to standard visitor admission, group rates and suggested itineraries are provided for tour groups, though docent-led tours are not offered. Delta Blues-themed memorabilia is available at Lucille’s Gift Shop, including CDs, DVDs, apparel, and souvenirs.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Group tour opportunities for student tour groups are available, including suggested itineraries and curriculum-based materials. The Museum also offers a wide variety of arts and educational programming, including piano and guitar lessons for youth and adult students. Yoga, taekwondo, and exercise and health courses are also held regularly for participants of all ages. An annual AllStars Ensemble program provides intensive training and performance and travel opportunities for exceptional young musicians in grades 6-12, and a B.B.’s Bridge Building Ambassadors program offers social leadership opportunities to secondary school students throughout Sunflower County.
Weekly concerts are presented on Thursday nights at the historic Club Ebony, a prominent African-American nightclub in downtown Indianola. A Live at the Museum performance series also brings notable contemporary blues musicians to the museum quarterly for special performances. An annual B.B King Homecoming festival and concert is held in June, begun in 2008 by King prior to his death and continued today as a memorial celebration in his honor. Museum membership is available to Indianola residents and visitors, offering exclusive benefits and invitations to members-only special events throughout the year. Members also received discounted rates on museum workshops and classes and a subscription to the weekly Lucille’s Notes e-newsletter.
400 2nd St, Indianola, MS 38751, Phone: 662-887-9539
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