Chicot County resident Dr. Terri Austin McCullough was recently elected national pilot pro tempore of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, a 77-year-old, 10-state commission that promotes tourism along the Mississippi River.

McCullough, of Eudora, will serve with the commission’s national chairman (pilot) Karl Samp of Minnesota.

Established in 1938 under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the commission coordinates efforts from the federal to local levels to preserve, promote and enhance the Mississippi River through history, culture and ecology.

“Although we have a long history, the Mississippi River Parkway Commission promotes cutting edge tourism options,” McCullough said. “Geotourism, with a cell phone application and related maps website, is being developed in coordination with National Geographic for the 10 state Mississippi River Corridor. Tourists can plan their visits with more than the green and white Great River Road Pilot Wheel routes and Interpretive Center signs.”

The National Mississippi River Parkway Commission is the only organization connecting all 10 states along the river. The states include Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Each state has its own separate commission which is established by state statute. Membership consists of state legislators, local officials and general members appointed by the governors of the individual states.

The 10 state commissions work collectively to preserve, promote, and enhance the scenic, historic, and recreational resources of the Mississippi River, to foster economic growth in the corridor and to develop the national, scenic and historic parkway known as the Great River Road, a network of nearly 3,000 miles of interconnected roads that follow the Mississippi River from its headwaters in northern Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico.

This National Scenic Byway provides an opportunity to travel and experience the unique features of the Mississippi River. Today, the Great River Road is the oldest, longest and most unique scenic byways in North America.

The Mississippi River Parkway Commission was established in 1938 to develop and oversee what was then called the Mississippi River Parkway, now called the Great River Road. Originally, the commission was charged with the goal of creating a parkway on both sides of the river from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Planning, design and construction of the Great River Road was put on hold until after World War II. In 1949, Congress allocated funds to each state based on several factors including the amount of road in each state.

For more information about the Great River Road Scenic Byway, visit the Experience Mississippi River website.

Local interpretive centers, Lake Chicot State Park and Lakeport Plantation, provide travel information along the Mississippi River. Maps and other travel specifics are also available at the Arkansas Welcome Center, 3697 Highway 65-82 South, Lake Village, AR 71653.