There is a path through history in south-central Mississippi that stretches from Hattiesburg in Forrest County to Prentiss in Jefferson Davis County. It follows part of the route of the old Mississippi Central Railroad, the railroad that opened up that part of the state at the turn of the century one hundred years ago, changing it from an isolated and insulated gathering of farms and settlements into the lumbering center of the south. While the rails are long gone, the path is now paved and carefully tended for the enjoyment of all visitors, whether walking, running, or cycling — with an equestrian trail running alongside of it for about half its distance. This path is called the Longleaf Trace and it is the subject of a book by Anthony Mozingo of Purvis, Mississippi.
Author Anthony Mozingo reads from his book to one
of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's
"History is Lunch" lectures in mid-February 2010.
Mozingo's book, The Longleaf Trace Companion, serves its job well as a comprehensive guide to this trail, artfully combining the history of the area with the information needed to fully enjoy one's visit. Whether you decide to start at the Hattiesburg Gateway on the eastern end, the Prentiss Depot at the northern end, or any of the many entries along the way, The Longleaf Trace Companion will guide you through each of the miles that you decide to travel.
The book is filled with detailed topographical maps — forty-one in all — showing the terrain, the location of shelters and towns, where roads and streams cross, and (especially interesting to this writer) the precise locations of the old railroad grade and the lumber mills that once lined the track.
Following the maps, the reader can find more than a dozen short historical essays with mileage stamps for reference to the maps. In addition to details on the various riding and running clubs that make use of the Trace, there is also contact information for bicycle shops in Hattiesburg and for the Longleaf Trace organization itself. There is also information about the flora and fauna one might see along the Trace. Trail rules, mileage charts, and elevation profiles round out The Longleaf Trace Companion, leaving no doubt about what to expect when you set foot on this scenic and historical path.
The Longleaf Trace Companion is an easily carried paperback measuring 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches with 152 pages, 41 maps, 53 B&W photographs, two mileage charts, 40 elevation profiles, and a bibliography. You can order it through Toot Toot Publishing in Purvis, Mississippi for $19.95 plus $5.20 S&H.
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