As you meander through the rural countryside of north Mississippi, we hope you’ll take time to wander into our small hospitable towns.
Houston in Chickasaw County (Mile 0) — Established in 1836 Houston is one of two county seats of Chickasaw County. The land on which Houston resides was donated to the city by Judge Joel Pinson on the condition that it would be named for Sam Houston, a childhood friend. In 1909, Houston became home to the first Carnegie library in the state after L.B. Reid, then-superintendent of schools, wrote to Andrew Carnegie telling of the need for a public library. Houston is also home to the National Champion Sundancer Solar Race Teams, having won numerous consecutive national titles in the Solar Car Challenge. It hosts the Mississippi Flywheel Festival both in April and September of every year. Whether beginning or ending your experience on the Tanglefoot Trail in Houston, Pinson Square built around the classical revival courthouse is only a short walk/ride from the trailhead. You’ll pass the Carnegie Library on your way to enjoy a variety of local fare and shopping to include floral, gifts, fashion boutiques, and antiques.
New Houlka in Chickasaw County (Mile 9.9) — New Houlka includes the older settlement of “old Houlka”. Chickasaw County’s oldest town, the community was established in 1812 at the intersection of the Natchez Trace and Gaines Trace approximately one mile from the Chickasaw Indian Agency. With the coming of the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad in 1905, the town moved from its original site approximately a mile to the west. When you rest at New Houlka’s Whistle Stop, you’ll find a beautifully restored former school, located a few blocks east.
Algoma in Pontotoc County (Mile 19.3) — Algoma, a Chickasaw word meaning “God abides” is the name first given to the community by a Presbyterian preacher named Savage. Settled in the 1830s the community was on an Indian Long Trail. After the Gulf and Chicago Railroad extended its line from Pontotoc, the community experienced growth due to the quantity of available timber and the H.W. Owen Tie Company. Algoma proclaimed to be the “Crosstie Capital of the world. The community flourished until the town was hit by a tornado and timber was depleted. Farming became the chief source of income. Today the community continues to honor its past by hosting an annual Crosstie Festival each October. Take time to enjoy some catfish, a stop at the country store and inquire about the local custom knife maker.
Pontotoc in Pontotoc County (Mile 25.8) — Pontotoc developed on hunting grounds ceded by the Chickasaw Indians at the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in 1832. Its name is translated from the Chickasaw language as land of the hanging grapes. The land for the town, incorporated in 1836, was given by Thomas C. McMackin and his wife Lucinda. The community built up around the public square a few blocks up the hill from the Tanglefoot Trail. There was great excitement when Falkner’s railroad reached Pontotoc in 1888. Thousands of citizens came to town on July 4th to watch the ‘driving of the silver spike” in celebration of the event. Be sure to visit the Town Square Post Office & Museum and amble around the historic downtown; browse boutiques, gift and antique shops. A Main Street Community, the town’s annual events the Bodock Festival, Christmas Parade, and 4th of July Celebration on the square reflect the community’s small town charm.
Ecru in Pontotoc County (Mile 32.6) — The lone sound of a steam-run train whistle marked the beginning of the little village of Ecru with much excitement. The first official train ran through the town on July 4, 1888. After Falkner’s railroad was established, residents from Cherry Creek and other nearby communities began to migrate to Ecru. When the U.S. postal system established a post office and needed a name, Ecru was chosen as a result of the ecru color of the town’s depot. Today the town proclaims to be the “Biggest Little Town” in North Mississippi.
Ingomar Community in Union County (Mile 37.1) — This unincorporated community was named Ingomar after a fictional character in the book The White Rose of Memphis, penned by the builder of the railroad, old Colonel William C. Falkner, great-grandfather of the Nobel Prize winning author William C. Faulkner of later fame. Ingomar was the name of the fictional Chickasaw Chief in the novel. Interestingly, the real Chickasaw King, Ishtehotopah, lived within sight of the Chickasaw Trail which would become the railroad and today is the Tanglefoot Trail. Ingomar is a close knit community with a school, several churches and beautiful countryside. Close by is the Ingomar Mound site. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a Mississippi Landmark, it is a Middle Woodland mound complex and the oldest known manmade structure in Union County. Take time to stop by the local pottery studio south of Ingomar.
New Albany in Union County (Mile 43.6) — Established in 1890 along the banks of the Tallahatchie River, New Albany is the birthplace of the 20th century’s greatest American novelist, William Faulkner. It was Faulkner’s great-grandfather, Col. William.C. Falkner, who built the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad along the right-of-way which the Tanglefoot Trail follows. You’ll begin or end your trail experiences near New Albany’s historic downtown. The area is vibrant with shops for gifts, antiques, jewelry, and sweets. Galleries and boutiques offer other interesting places to shop. A variety of menus are found in local eateries. Take time to visit the Union County Heritage Museum and Faulkner Garden. The annual Tallahatchie River Fest is held the 4th weekend in September. Mississippi’s Bluegrass Championship is held the 3rd weekend each May in conjunction with Down from the Hills Heritage Music Fest. The trailside city, a Mississippi Main Street community, also hosts a number of other annual events and performances.