THE LOWER RIVER 141 network services. The remainder of the building is used for their customer call center. The Lower River is also home to Ergon Refining and Waring Oil Company. Ergon formed Ergon Refining, Inc. (ERI) in 1978 and formed its first fuel refinery in Vicksburg. The refinery is the largest manufacturer of specialty naphthenic products in the world and can process up to 25,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Ergon Refining was strategically built 340 river miles north of New Orleans in Vicksburg Industrial Park. Because of its location, ERI is able to keep transportation costs low by using river, rail, and highway. Ergon Refining produces many residual products like industrial asphalt flux that is used in the roofing and bunker fuel markets. Waring Oil Company began as a service station in 1938 in Vicksburg. In 1954, D.P. Waring, Sr. and D.P. Waring, Jr. formed Waring Oil Company as a Phillips 66 wholesale distributor of oil and gas. Waring Oil Company became associated with Texaco, Inc. in the 1970s when they purchased a local distributor in Vicksburg. This helped the company grow in the oil and fuel market. In 1985, Waring Oil Company purchased a Texaco wholesaler and in 1995, they purchased a Chevron distributer. Waring partnered with Exxon Lubricants in 1999 and when Exxon and Mobil merged in 2000, Waring Oil Company became a major supplier of OEM products. Waring joined the convenience store business in 1979. Over the next twenty-five years, they owned more than forty stores in Mississippi and Louisiana until the stores were sold to The Pantry, Inc., in 2006. Waring Oil Company also offers JAX, Mobil, and Bioblend, as well as ECO-1 and Super Enzymes. Waring Oil offers lubricants and bobtail fuel service North and East Central Mississippi and Western Alabama. The Lower River counties are also filled with many outdoor activities. The Homochitto National Forest is named after the Homochitto River. The 189,000 acre forest offers camping, picnicking, biking, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, and more. The wildlife is abundant and visitors can hunt deer, turkey, and small game. The Homochitto National Forest covers Franklin, Amite, Copiah, Wilkinson, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Adams counties. A popular means of travel in the Lower River is the Natchez Trace Parkway. The historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile long path that connects Natchez to Nashville. The Parkway was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European The Lower River counties as they now exist were forged by its citizens from the land they live on, the river they live by, and the economic and cultural currents from within and without. and American explorers, traders, and emigrants in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Trace is open year-round to motorists, hikers, and bikers. The Parkway is maintained and administered by the National Park Service. Visitors can discover scenic areas, numerous hiking trails, picnic sites, campgrounds, and water recreation areas. Almost thirty hiking and self-guiding trails cover sixty miles of the Natchez Trace. Aside from cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and RVs are popular ways visitors travel the Trace. The Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the largest civil works districts in size and activities. The Vicksburg District covers Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana and seven major river basins. This district also includes 800 miles of commercially navigable streams and rivers including the Ouachita-Black, the Pearl, the Red, and the Yazoo Rivers. The Vicksburg District averages $220 million annually and current missions include flood control, navigation, hydropower, recreation, water supply, emergency operations, water quality, and environmental restoration. Established in 1873, the district is Vicksburg’s second oldest business. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (WES) was created as a result of the 1927 Mississippi River flood. This was one of the worst floods in American history and hit Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas the hardest. The WES was established in Vicksburg in 1929 by Congress to provide research support for the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project. The WES now consists of five laboratories that support in- depth studies of coastal engineering, dredging, earthquake engineering, geology, weapons effects, soil and rock mechanics, and more. The Waterways Experiment Station labs continue to advance the planning, construction, and maintenance of the nation’s water transportation framework. The Lower River counties as they now exist were forged by its citizens from the land they live on, the river they live by, and the economic and cultural currents from within and without. They are moving beyond the divisions of the past and are poised to work together to build a prosperous and harmonious future.