The Tanglefoot Trail, located in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area preserves the abandoned 43.6 mile railroad corridor assembled in part for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad by Col. William Clark Falkner beginning in 1871. With its storied past the Tanglefoot offers the historian a trek through time; the nature enthusiast views of creeks, flora and fauna; and the recreational opportunist an asphalt trail that winds through six communities — New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, New Houlka and Houston as well as three counties - Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw. Along the way are mature hardwood forests; trees draping with kudzu; fields of cotton and soybeans; pastures, and wetlands.
First blazed by Native Americans, the trail was also traveled by early explorers, Hernando de Soto and later, Meriwether Lewis. The last Chickasaw King Ishtehotopah made his home near the creek, now known as King Creek, which the Tanglefoot Trail crosses. As Union troops made their way south, Col. Benjamin Grierson, along with his soldiers, followed the same king’s pathway.
When communities were reconstructed and others formed, Col. Falkner, began his quest to build a railroad. One engine, the Tanglefoot, a ten wheeler with driving wheels 36 inches in diameter, operated at a steam pressure of 60 psi. It performed admirably as the line was constructed through the area. It was a narrow gauge engine and retired when the line became standardized.
In September 2013, over 125 years after first reaching the area, the Tanglefoot returned to open a new chapter in our history. Replacing rails with a trail, the Tanglefoot offers young and old; family and friends; neighbors and visitors opportunities to get outdoors. Have fun and enjoy yourselves!