With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, the plantation society and slavery in Mississippi expanded in the 1820s. The Forks of the Road was the second largest slave-auction market in the South. The market site occupied a prominent knoll, straddling the city's eastern corporation line. According to contemporary accounts, the pens resembled a prison camp where men, women and children were sold.
Slave trading in Natchez ceased with the arrival of Union troops in the summer of 1863. In September of that year, soldiers of the 58th U.S. Colored Troops, consisting of men who only a few years earlier, had been sold into slavery at the site, worked throughout the night to destroy the last slave markets of Natchez.