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About Tupelo, Mississippi

Conflict and courage. They have formed the backbone of Tupelo's colorful history from the earliest days of Spanish explorers through the bloody battles of the Civil War. Attractions such as the Elvis Presley birthplace and the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo showcase the vivid success of present-day Tupelo.

Visitors to Tupelo, Mississippi can walk the same countryside that Hernando De Soto explored in 1540, when he and his traveling party stumbled upon a tribe of Chickasaw Indians among the hills of the wooded countryside. Defending the land of their ancestors, the fierce-fighting Chickasaws pushed the Spanish explorer to the west and onward to the Mississippi River, the discovery that made De Soto's name immortal.

Two centuries later, more bloodshed led to British control of the region. Chickasaw warriors, armed by England, drove back French invaders and their Indian allies, the Choctaws. It is known as the Battle of Ackia - a victory that helped Great Britain establish a foothold in North America that would last until the Revolution.

But war is not the only thread that runs through Tupelo's history.

The Natchez Trace, now a scenic parkway and an ideal travel route for Southern vacations, weaves itself through Tupelo's past and into its future. Built to facilitate trade with the Natchez Indians to the South, the now-famous route has endured, serving British travelers in the 1700's and an ensuing flood of settlers who built peaceful civilizations up and down its great length.

Downtown Tupelo

But peace was again interrupted when more than 20,000 Union and Confederate troopers clashed in July 1864 at the Battle of Tupelo. Led by Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate cavalry assaulted Union soldiers assigned to protect the supply lines of General William T. Sherman in his famous march to Atlanta. The Union forces ultimately retreated to Memphis, leaving casualties from both sides at nearly 2,000.

Within five years, Tupelo officially became a city, taking its name from the native Tupelo Gum Tree. By 1887, the town's modern roots were being planted at the crossroads of several converging railroads: the Mobile & Ohio, Kansas City and the Memphis & Birmingham. Tupelo's emergence as a railway and manufacturing power helped ensure its status as the first U.S. city to switch on a cheap and reliable source of electricity, through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The evolution of Tupelo continues as this city throbs with economic vitality and a wealth of historical attractions-such as the Elvis Presley birthplace and the Tupelo National Battlefield-guaranteed to intrigue and educate visitors and residents alike. These and countless other Tupelo attractions have become popular destinations for Southern vacations.