This is one of 12 significant sites in Elvis’ formative years in Tupelo marked with bronze plaques on the Elvis Presley Driving Trail. Tupelo Hardware undoubtedly played a major role in the life of Elvis Presley. The hardware store was where Gladys, Elvis’ mother, purchased his first guitar and put music in the hands of a boy who grew to become a musical legend. The story goes that Elvis was very upset because Gladys refused to buy him a shotgun for his 11th birthday, so a store employee tried calming him down by handing him a guitar that he then started strumming. He then decided upon the guitar instead of the shotgun. Visitors are welcome during the store’s regular hours. Come in and listen to tales told by store employees while you stand in the spot where Elvis made that fateful decision.
Exhibits in “Frenchman’s Bend”, an outdoor exhibit area, give the visitor interactive experiences and a feel for Mississippi’s rural culture with the Faulkner Literary Garden, the Storyteller’s Chair, Varner’s Country Store, a caboose, an early 20th century doctor’s office, a black smith shop, a 1950s auto body shop, agricultural exhibits and great outdoor folk art. The museum complex occupies a city block in New Albany one block from the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner.
In 1967, when the Urban Renewal Laws were adopted by the city of Starkville, the small neighborhood located between Mississippi State University and downtown Starkville was designated an Urban Renewal Area and subsequently became home to one of the first neo-traditionalist housing developments in America.
This Middle Woodland Mound Site has been dated to approximately 2,200 years ago and is the oldest documented man-made site in Union County. Smithsonian archaeologists excavated the site in the middle 1880s, creating the map (below) and taking hundreds of objects for its permanent collection. A selection of those objects is on loan from the Smithsonian to the Union County Heritage Museum and are currently on exhibit. Annually events are held for students and adults at the 63 acre Mound site, that is owned by the Archaeological Conservancy. For tours and information contact the museum. The site opens at dawn and closes at dusk.
French Camp, originally known as the Frenchman’s Camp and used as a recruitment facility by General Andrew Jackson, was founded circa 1810 when Louis LeFleur and his family opened a stand, or tavern, and inn. His son, Greenwood LeFleur, changed the spelling of his last name to LeFlore and later became a Mississippi Senator and Principal Chief of the Choctaw. Visitors traveling down the Natchez Trace can drive or walk through French Camp Historic District. A wooden boardwalk extends through the entire district from the Log Cabin Gift Shop to the Bed & Breakfast Inn, and Greenwood Leflore’s former council house now houses the Council House Café.
Established by Union General Grenville M. Dodge to accommodate African-American refugees, the camp featured numerous homes, a church, school and hospital. The freedmen cultivated and sold cotton and vegetables in a progressive cooperative farm program. By August 1863, over 1,000 African American children and adults gained the ability to read through the efforts of various benevolent organizations. Although the camp had a modest beginning, it became a model and allowed for approximately 6,000 ex-slaves to establish their own individual identities.
Completed in 1859, the observatory is now home to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Alvan Clark and Sons designed an 18½ inch refractor lens for Barnard, but when the Civil War broke out, it instead went to Chicago and is still in use at Northwestern University’s Dearborn Observatory.
Located in the historic train depot in Corinth, the museum is home to many artifacts detailing the history of northern Mississippi. Permanent exhibit items include fossils, American Indian artifacts, depot and railroad industry displays, aviation memorabilia and Civil War relics. The museum sits at the famous crossroads of the Memphis & Charleston and the Mobile & Ohio railroads, which made Corinth one of the most strategic transportation hubs during the Civil War and gave the community its reputation as “The Crossroads of the Western Confederacy”.
Rust College is a historically-black, coeducational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Founded in 1884 as the first publicly-supported college for women in the United States, MUW is a tradition-rich university that has been home to such noted personalities as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty, as well as the mothers of both Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.
This six-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Chickasaw Chief Piomingo by William Beckwith sits in front of the Tupelo City Hall.
This larger-than-life statue of Elvis’ 1956 Homecoming Concert at the Tupelo Fairgrounds was based on a famous shot called “the Hands” by Roger Marshutz. Facing east toward his Tupelo birthplace, the statue is poised for a perfect photo op with Tupelo Hardware, where he bought his first guitar, visible over his left shoulder. The statue stands on the site of the old fairgrounds where the concert took place and was created by Mississippi sculptor Bill Beckwith.
Oprah Winfrey Road runs north of Hwy 12 past Oprah Winfrey’s first church, her family cemetery and the site of her birthplace.
The courthouse, a Mississippi Landmark, features restored murals depicting the journeys of famed Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto—who explored this area in 1541-1542—as he searched for the Mississippi River.
The old jail where Johnny Cash stayed after being arrested in 1965 for “picking flowers”, an event he later memorialized in the song, “Starkville City Jail”.
On the third floor of Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University, this facility contains materials and memorabilia from the writings and achievements of bestselling author, former Mississippi legislator and MSU alumnus John Grisham.
Blues museum featuring history & artifacts of Howlin’ Wolf and the Black Prairie Region, Big Joe Williams, Bukka White. Granite statue of Howlin’ Wolf on display.