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Posted On 06/13/2019 16:50:10
Trip Date 04/14/2019
Destinations | Mississippi | Vicksburg | DIY Touring in Vicksburg | Sightseeing in Vicksburg | Vicksburg National Military Park | Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum | Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
Our RV journey continued north from Natchez to Vicksburg where we packed in two full days of
sightseeing. The city is filled with history, but that's not all. There's art, gaming, pop culture, scenic overlooks and even a
unique area for kids.
If you have plans to be in Mississippi and are in search of ideas for DIY Touring in Vicksburg, you're in the right
place. You've likely heard about the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals.
There's more, however, to sightseeing in Vicksburg than those two destinations! Read on to discover some of the low cost
(or free) local museums including the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. There's fun for all ages in Vicksburg!
HISTORY: Vicksburg National Military Park
The Vicksburg National Military Park pays tribute to the sacrifices
of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Nicknamed "the largest outdoor art gallery in the world", the
park today includes a visitor center as well as a 16 mile self-guided driving (or walking or biking) tour around the
The entrance fee of $20.00 per vehicle (valid for 7 consecutive days) is waived for those with an America the Beautiful
National Park Pass. Getting a good overview of the entire park requires at least two hours. History lovers or those
wanting a more in depth tour of this important site in America's past can spend many more hours or even days trying to
truly see it all.
Entrance to Vicksburg National Military Park
Any visit to Vicksburg National Military Park should begin at the Visitor Center. In addition to both indoor and
outdoor exhibits, a 20-minute video explains the 47 day Battle of Vicksburg which took place from May 18 to July
Artillery from the Battle of Vicksburg
After getting your fill at the Visitor Center, pass through the Memorial Arch to begin your tour of the battlefield.
About 8,000 veterans attended a Veterans' and Peace Reunion sponsored by congress at the military park in 1917.
Funds remaining from the appropriation for the reunion were used to create the Memorial Arch dedicated in 1920 to
commemorate the event.
Memorial Arch at Vicksburg National Military Park
Completing the entire journey through the military park by car requires a 16 mile relatively slow moving drive plus
numerous stops along the way. We spent close to 2 1/2 hours and got just a taste of everything. We did drive the entire
tour however made few stops other than those for photos from our car.
For those with less time available, signage at the park as well as the brochure offered upon your entrance include multiple
options for shorter tours. If you have specific interests, take a peek at the map and plan your route accordingly.
Monuments and Memorials
In just a few hours it's impossible to see all of the over 1,400 monuments and memorials who make their home inside
Vicksburg National Military Park. From markers, plaques and tablets to busts, larger than life statues and state memorials,
there's a wide variety of "art" in the "outside gallery".
Major General Ulysses S. Grant
Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman
If your home state was a part of the Union or Confederacy, you might like to find your state's memorial.
It's interesting to know that the park was established in 1899 and the first state memorial was placed within the park in
1903. Nearly all of the remaining monuments were dedicated within the next 15 years.
USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum
The Union's USS Cairo, one of the first ironclad warships, was put into service in 1862. Just seven miles north of
Vicksburg in the Yazoo River, two explosions caused the ship to take on water and sink in a mere twelve minutes.
The entire crew was able to escape without a single injury or death.
Covered in silt, sand and mud which actually preserved the gunboat, it was rediscovered nearly 100 years later in 1956. It
took another eight years to remove the Cairo from the river. It was not until 1977 that the gunboat was placed in its
current location at Vicksburg National Military Park.
USS Cairo Gunboat
Cannon aboard USS Cairo
In addition to seeing the actual restored gunboat, dedicate some time to walking through the museum and watching the
short video. Recovered items which are amazingly preserved and on display in the museum include medical supplies,
kitchen (mess) utensils, tools, weapons and much more.
Vicksburg National Cemetery
Along with veterans of several other wars, almost 17,000 Union Soldiers are buried at Vicksburg National
Cemetery. Of the Union Civil War casualties, about 13,000 are unknown.
Vicksburg National Cemetery
Gun Monument at Vicksburg National Cemetery
Confederates are buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery located just outside of the Vicksburg National Military Park.
SCENIC OVERLOOKS: Navy Circle and Louisiana Circle
Louisiana Circle and Navy Circle, two of four detached units of the Vicksburg National Military
Park, both have great views of the Mississippi River from above. Navy Circle can be found next to the
Mississippi State Welcome Center on Washington Street. Between July 1 and July 4, 1863, this was the home of
the Union's Battery Benton.
Mississippi River from Louisiana Circle
Next to Riverfront Park and about one mile north of Navy Circle is Louisiana Circle. In addition to the view of the
river and bridges, you'll also find a cannon belonging to the Confederate forces. The Widow Blakely is located on
the hill just a few steps above the paved drive.
The Widow Blakely
Bridges over the Mississippi River in Vicksburg
GAMING: Riverfront Casinos
With two each on Washington Street and Warrenton Road, the casinos in Vicksburg offer much more than
gaming. In addition to appealing to those who are trying to win big at the slots or tables, the casinos offer live
entertainment, drinks, dining and hotel accommodations.
HISTORY: Vicksburg's Old Court House Museum
The Old Warren County Court House which houses the Old Court House Museum was originally built in 1858. Several years after the 1939 opening of a new courthouse, there was
speculation that the old building would be demolished. After all, it had been hit during the Civil War, suffered tornado
damage and sat vacant and in need of repairs. Fortunately an effort to clean the building and collect artifacts for display
was undertaken beginning in 1947 and the museum opened in 1948.
Although the posted hours both online and on signage at the site said it's open seven days a week, all entrances were
locked during our early Sunday afternoon arrival. Priced at $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for students (1st through 12th
grades), the museum is reportedly filled with thousands of artifacts likely to appeal to a wide audience. If you have the
opportunity (and the doors are open), try to stop by to see:
the gift given to a child by Theodore Roosevelt (a teddy bear);
the trophy won in a race by the steamboat Robert E. Lee (antlers); and
Jefferson Davis' tie worn during his inauguration as Confederate President.
POP CULTURE: Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum
Open seven days a week (although Sunday hours are limited to 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM), the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum is easy to spot
in downtown Vicksburg. The two-story brick building was constructed by father (Herman) and son (Joe
Biedenharn) in 1890. Joe's wholesale candy store & soda fountain and Herman's shoe store each operated on one
side of the building.
Biedenharn Candy Company
In 1894, Joe got the never before tried idea to bottle the popular fountain drink Coca-Cola so that it could be
shipped to rural areas. Originally shipped out of town down the Mississippi River by boat, the rest, as they say, is history!
The family eventually sold the building but repurchased it in 1979. Upon completion of a project aimed at restoring the
building, they donated it to the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation. Priced at $3.50 for adults and
$2.50 for kids 6 - 12 years old, guests touring the "museum" today can see exhibits about both the history of Coca-Cola,
the original bottling process and the Biedenharn family. The museum is also full of plenty of memorabilia from days gone
Vintage Bottle Rack and Coca-Cola Vending Machine
Museum Reconstruction of circa 1900 Soda Fountain
After touring the museum, it's hard to pass up enjoying something from the reconstructed candy store and soda fountain.
In addition to offering bottled soft drinks, ice cream and coke floats, there's an assortment of souvenirs for sale as well.
HISTORY: The Old Depot Museum
We missed out on the highly recommended Old Depot Museum as it is
closed on Sundays and Mondays. While the name of the museum makes me think of trains, the museum is actually
dedicated to transportation and travel. You'll definitely see trains throughout, but don't miss the scale models of military
and maritime boats and ships dating back hundreds of years. The museum is also home to a one-of-a-kind diorama of the
Siege of Vicksburg. Going back in time on a trip to the Old Depot is a must for our next opportunity to spend time
The 32 murals were unveiled between April 2002 and April 2009. The image captured on each panel of the flood wall pays
tribute to a historical point in Vicksburg's past. In addition to admiring the art, you can even learn a little something about
the city by reading the plaques located at ground level in front of each panel.
The last of the Vicksburg museums that we missed out on (this one because it closed earlier than advertised) was the Lower Mississippi River Museum. Admission to the museum located at 910
Washington Street is free and it is advertised as being open seven days per week with more limited hours on
In order to get the full experience at the museum, start in the Orientation Theater. Interactive displays in the
museum include the Mississippi River as a highway, how the river benefits the life of of those nearby, protecting the river
for tomorrow and so much more. There's even an indoor aquarium filled with fish native to the lower Mississippi River.
Although we missed out on all of the indoor displays, we saw (but didn't really experience) the outdoor Mississippi
River Flood Model. The scale model is designed to teach visitors how various factors impact a river. Outside of the
museum is also a great place to be on the lookout for riverboats cruising (or docked) on the Mississippi River!
Mississippi River Flood Model
Docked on the Mississippi River
FUN FOR KIDS: Art Park at Catfish Row
If you're traveling with youngsters, they might enjoy spending some time at the Art Park at Catfish Row. Located
on Levee Street between Clay and Grove Streets (very near the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals), kids will love the
play areas, splash fountain and garden walks designed just for them. The park is even adorned with kid created artwork!
Art Park at Catfish Row
Day Trips from Vicksburg
If you'll have some more time while in Vicksburg, be sure to see our post titled Day Trips from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Whether you want to drive north or south, there's ideas to fill even more of your time is this part of the state. You'll find a couple of recommended lunch or dinner restaurants plus sites including a petrified forest, ruins and an even larger (but quite dilapidated) model of the Mississippi River!
If you had the opportunity to return to Vicksburg but could only spend one day in the city, what sites would be first on
your list to see and why?
Created On 06/12/2019 09:31:07
Updated On 06/20/2019 16:52:45
Scheduled On 06/13/2019 13:50:10
Posted On 06/13/2019 16:50:10
Last Editor Stacy
Location Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, MS, United States