West Point, the “heart of the Mississippi Black Prairie,” offers visitors much to see and experience from history to award-winning golf.
Mississippi’s “Golden Triangle” consists of three cities: Starkville to the west, Columbus to the east, and West Point to the north – the top of the triangle. The towns are in three different counties: Oktibbeha, Lowndes, and Clay.
According to the Oktibbeha County website, “Columbus is situated at the junction of three rivers: the Tombigbee, the Buttahatchie, and the Luxapalila.” The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway plays a significant part in tourism in this area, especially around West Point, which serves as the County Seat of Clay County.
Let’s look at the top three places to visit and explore in West Point, the “heart of the Mississippi Black Prairie.” In case you are wondering, the Black Prairie region is an area that makes up Alabama’s Black Belt. Before the Civil War, large plantations were established because the rich soil was ideal for cotton farming. Today, you will find cattle farms, soybeans, and cotton.
Waverly Plantation Mansion
Around 1852, Colonel George Hampton Young of Georgia built an antebellum home for his Family in West Point. The home stands tall on the historic plantation. Beautiful gardens, orchards, and livestock made it a self-sustaining community. Years later, a tannery, hat manufacturing operation, and a lumber mill were added.
The story is told that Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a frequent visitor and friend of Col. Young, spent three weeks recuperating at Waverley during the Civil War. He stayed in the Egyptian Room. “The octagonal cupola of the home served as an observation point for watching the river and the prairie for troop movement”—an excellent place for his headquarters, according to battlefields.org. The cupola crowns a self-supporting curved stairway in the 65-foot high entrance hall.
Colonel Young’s wife died before the home was finished but not before she had 150 boxwoods planted at the entrance. It is estimated that the boxwoods are now about 150 years old. The Colonel continued to live at the mansion. His son, Captain William Young, oversaw the property upon his death. The only surviving son, William passed around 1913. Sadly, the property went unattended for the next fifty years. Vandals, plunderers, and the weather elements took their toll, leaving the house and plantation in great disarray.
In 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Snow of Philadelphia, Mississippi purchased the property and began restoration on the mansion and the plantation’s 40 acres. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, National Historic Landmarks, and the Civil War Trail.
The plantation was sold in December 2018 to Charlie and Dana Stephenson. If you follow Memories of Waverley Mansion on Facebook, you will find pictures of the remodeling in 2020—an extensive undertaking. The Columbus Spring Pilgrimage added it to their tour of homes in 2019. Tours are available from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1852 Waverley Mansion Road, MS. The spelling of Waverley and Waverly are interchangeable.
Old Waverly Golf Club
Whether you are a beginner or an avid golfer, Old Waverly might be the first place you want to visit. Perhaps stay a few days in one of their villas, condos, or cottages. Make reservations to enjoy a meal at one of their eight dining facilities. And allow plenty of time to play a round or two on the 18-hole championship golf course.
Since 1988, several championships have been held at the club. For example, the U.S. Women’s Open, the 2007 SEC Women’s Championship, and the U.S. Women’s Amateur held in 2019.
Old Waverly was the vision of the George and Marcia Bryan family. With 360 acres of pastureland, the family enlisted course designer Bob Cupp and Jerry Pate, a U.S. Open winner, to develop what is now ranked as one of America’s 100 greatest public courses. Also, Old Waverly holds a reputation as being the top residential golf course in Mississippi.
If you want a bird’s eye view of the golf course, you might enjoy watching the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open (final round): Juli Inster Wins at Old Waverly. For more information about upcoming invitational tournaments, junior golf camps, and other events, visit Old Waverly Golf Club, call (662) 495-5485, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prairie Arts Festival
According to the city of West Point’s website, “In the 1970’s a cattle ranch erected a windmill above a water well on Highway 50 east of West Point. At the time, the windmill was unique to the area and became a great conversation piece and a familiar site to travelers approaching the City.” Later, the windmill was chosen to be the logo for the Prairie Arts Festival. The festival has grown significantly since 1979. The city of West Point, Nebraska, donated a windmill in 1992, “noting that there was another namesake town located on a fertile prairie.” The windmill is prominently displayed and is a landmark for the arts festival.
Mark your calendar for the Saturday before Labor Day for the annual Prairie Arts Festival. There are many activities: a 5K race and Kidtown for the children, food booths, arts and crafts, and live music. The 2024 festival will be held on August 31. For more information or a vendor application, email email@example.com or call (662) 494-5121.
Three Applied to Education
The subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic, plus others, are taught at West Point Consolidated School District, Oak Hill Academy, or Hebron Christian School. And I would be amiss, for you who are high school football fans, if I didn’t tell you that the West Point Green Wave football team (Class 5A) has won the state championship twelve times. The most recent was in 2023.
When it is time to advance to higher education, there are two universities and one community college in the “Golden Triangle.” They are Mississippi State University, University for Women, and East Mississippi Community College’s largest campus.
Three Additional Points of Interest
The West Point Hall of Fame was established in 1984 by the Kiwanis Club, Daily Times Leader, and the Clay County Economic Development Corporation. A banquet is held annually, and a plaque is presented to the honored recipients. These individuals are recognized for their “achievements, dedication, and service. The Wall of Fame is in the City Hall auditorium.
The Black Prairie Blues Museum is dedicated to preserving “the blues music.” Monthly events are held at the museum, located at 640 Commerce Street. Past events were entertainers Honeyboy and Boots, Hepcats, and Libby Rae Watson. If you have questions, visit the website or call 662.275.7819.
One of my favorite things to do while in West Point is to stop in Jubilations, 6070 Highway 45 Alternate South, for a cup of roasted coffee and cheesecake. My favorites are the Turtle and the Southern Caramel Praline Pecan Cheesecakes. Simply divine! Try a cup of their Waverly Sunrise Blend. They also have a variety of cakes, such as Red Velvet, Carrot, or Caramel. You can purchase cheesecakes, cakes, and coffee to take home or for gifts.