Tupelo, Mississippi, may be known as the “Birthplace of Elvis Presley,” but the quaint little town in the northeast corner of the state is also the hometown of a University of Alabama legend – Van Tiffin.
Tiffin was the placekicker for the Crimson Tide from 1983 – 1986 and held several school records.
In the 1985 Iron Bowl, Tiffin’s 52–yard field goal as time expired gave Alabama a 25-23 victory over rival Auburn. It has been dubbed simply “The Kick” in Alabama football lore.
In addition to being home to rock stars and football legends, Tupelo is a vibrant city with a small-town feel and a rich history.
Prior to European colonization, the area was home to Chickasaw and Choctaw bands of Native Americans but in the early 1700s European settlers came to the area and named the community Gum Pond because of all of the Tupelo (aka Blackgum) trees in the area.
During the War Between the States, Union and Confederate forces had several battles in this part of Mississippi.
In 1864, the Battle of Tupelo took place near Gum Pond, which would lead the city fathers to change the name of the town to Tupelo to honor the battle.
After the war, a railroad was built through the town encouraging industry, which led to Tupelo being the first city to receive electric power from the newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority during the Great Depression.
If you are looking for a getaway, Tupelo has history, culture, tourist attractions, outdoor activities, good food, and pretty much everything you could want from a day trip.
But as usual, there are some standouts on Wil’s Do-Not-Miss List.
Elvis’ Childhood Church
The small one-room church is located in the cluster of buildings known as Elvis’ Birthplace. The attraction features his boyhood home, a garden, a museum, and gift shop, but the stand-out attraction here is the church where a service from Elvis’ childhood is simulated.
Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo
The wild animal park is home to hundreds of exotic animals, but more importantly, it is home to one of the largest American Bison herds east of the Mississippi.
The Natchez Trace Parkway
Stretching 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, and following much of the original Native American trail, this two-lane national parkway is one of the Top Ten visited national parks in the country, with its headquarters and visitor’s center in Tupelo.
You can find out more about Gum Pond, I mean Tupelo, at tupelo.net.