|GULF COAST - History||
The Mississippi Gulf Coast area was explored in 1699 by Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville who was sent by the King of France to claim this important coastal region. With a small troop, he sailed into Biloxi Bay and established Fort Maurepas and a small colony on the east shore that is now Ocean Springs. A replica of this fort has been created and may be visited. It is a particularly lively place for the -Fort Maurepas Reenactment- or the annual -Landing of d'Iberville- celebrated in Ocean Springs.
Mississippi Gulf Coast, once home to the Biloxi Indians, then d'Iberville's French, changed hands many times over the years. Each new flag brought the infusion of a new culture. Traces of Spanish rule may be seen -and touched- at the Old Spanish Fort in Pascagoula, built in 1718 and still open to tour.
Southern planter society left graceful antebellum homes along Beach Boulevard -Hwy 90 which runs the length of the central section of Mississippi Gulf Coast. Grasslawn -1836 in Gulfport, The Father Ryan House -1840, Beauvoir -1852-54, Tullis-Toledano -1856 and The Church of the Redeemer bell tower -1873-73 all in Biloxi are open to tour year-round. Beauvoir, last home of Jefferson Davis, the first and only President of the Confederacy, is outstanding among the many antebellum and fine Victorian homes that grace the Coast. Here, Davis wrote his memoirs and spent his final years. The home, library and grounds are beautifully preserved.
For those interested in Southern culture and mansions, what better time to visit than during the annual -Spring Pilgrimage-. The Gulf Coast Garden Clubs open many historic homes and gardens massed with color.
Built prior to the Civil War but little used except as a Union prison, Fort Massachusetts stands guard off shore on West Ship Island, its cannons still ready to repel pirates or invaders. Now a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Seashore, the fort may be toured on your own or with the assistance of park rangers. A delightful 70-minute ferry ride takes visitors to West Ship Island to enjoy the fort, surf-pounded beaches, surf fishing or serene exploring on this uninhabited island.
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