“Why Mississippi?” Dan Engle, speaker at the October 17, 2017 monthly Evanston Bicycle Club meeting said that is the question he hears most when people find out about his bicycle trip. In May, 2017 Dan bicycled 550 miles from Jackson to Memphis, Tennessee and he did it solo. He took a train from Evanston to Jackson with his Trek 520 touring bike outfitted to carry 50 pounds of gear. He utilized trails, bike routes, and back roads staying overnight mostly in antebellum homes that he reserved overnight stays in advance using the community marketplace Airbnb. He researched bike routes using travel logs and is a big fan of the bike feature of Google Maps.
Dan’s presentation revealed his impressive knowledge of historical elements in Mississippi. Sites that he visited include:
- A segregated cemetery opened in 1858 in Jackson
- Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) in Oxford
- The 2nd most important military location in the civil war in Corinth
- Ida B. Wells birthplace and museum in Holly Springs
- Old court museum built in 1859 in Vicksburg
- USS Cairo iron clad boat and museum in Vicksburg
- Belmont plantation in Wayside
- B.B. King museum house in a former gin factory in Indianola
- Black History Museum in Corinth
- Borroums’ Drug Store and Soda Fountain founded in 1866 in Corinth
- Yellow Fever Martyrs Church Museum in Holly Springs
Far from exhausting all visit-worthy sites in Mississippi, Dan’s trip was time-boxed to 13 days so he had to cut short a full exploration of Memphis, Tennessee and the northern part of Mississippi to catch his train ride back home. He chose to do the trip solo rather than join an organized tour because he had a specific itinerary and wanted the freedom to pursue his own interests. His answer to the question “Why Mississippi” is that it is one state he had not been to before. The 50+ attendees at the monthly bike club meeting were glad he made the trip.