African-American Heritage Trail Itinerary: Crossroads
Get your itinerary and trip ideas for exploring the African-American Heritage Trail in the Crossroads region of the state.
The central crossroads of Louisiana include the quaint communities of Alexandria/Pineville and Natchitoches. Take in the rolling hills of red clay, thick forests of fragrant pine-this is the heart of Louisiana. Its heritage is Creole, French, and Spanish. Its beat, the rhythm of gospel choirs. It's the Crossroads in more ways than one.
- Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins, in Frogmore, is a cotton plantation from the early 1800's located just across the Mississippi River from Natchez, yet is still a working operation today. Tours focus on plantation life prior to and during the Civil War and then shift into post-war sharecropping.
- In downtown Ferriday, The Delta Music Museum, offers exhibits on numerous notable rock and blues musicians with ties to the central Louisiana region. The museum also tells the story of three Ferriday natives (Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and Jimmy Swaggart), cousins actually, who rose to national prominence in the 1950s.
- Travel west to downtown Alexandria, the Arna Bontemps African American Heritage Museum was home to one of Louisiana's most prolific African American writers. Although he left the state at an early age, much of his writing dealt with black life in Louisiana and the South, and as a novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, and historian he continually opposed the injustices of segregation.
- Follow The Northup Trail path of Solomon Northup during his 12 years as a slave in Central Louisiana, where his journey began.
- Head north by traveling to Natchitoches Parish to visit Melrose Plantation. The original seat of the Afro-Creole Metoyer family, the site includes the original "big house" as well as many plantation outbuildings. Clementine Hunter was discovered here.
- Nearby is St. Augustine Church, the spiritual center of the Creole community. This structure is over two centuries old and still in active use. The "Steel Magnolias" wedding took place here!
- In the same vicinity, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park includes sections of Magnolia and Oakland Plantations. The Park relates the story of plantation slavery in the area, particularly the complex intersections of French and African cultures in the creation of a truly "Creole" society.
- Walk around the historic Natchitoches downtown where the movie "Steel Magnolias" was filmed. Don't leave Natchitoches without tasting a meat pie! And take your time, stay overnight in one of the many beautiful bed and breakfasts or local hotels.