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‘See the USA in my Chevrolet, a little at a time’

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Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was home to third largest railroad in the country

Story and photos by

Peter Graulich

 

Editor’s note: This is an occasional column covering road trips from Citrus County.

 

This morning we are off on a 2-mile journey to the east over the Biloxi Bay Bridge to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Originally settled in 1699 as Fort Maurepas, the city was incorporated in 1892. After Dr. William Glover Austin proclaimed the healing benefits of the local spring water, the city became a prosperous resort town and later became a residential community centered on its history. 

The train arrived in the late 1800s, bringing more prosperity to the area.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s 30-foot storm surge destroyed the Biloxi Bay Bridge and caused extensive damage to the city. A new six-lane bridge was built and was completed in 2008. The new bridge brought stability to the Gulf Coast and allowed for new construction and development.

Today Ocean Springs is a city of about 18,000 persons. 

We began our visit at the L and N train depot, which also hosts the welcome center and Chamber of Commerce. Here we learn the importance of the railroad and its history dating back to 1907. Railroads were essential for survival as the Gulf Coast is surrounded by water and the trains allowed for easy travel. 

The area fostered development of new methods to move the trains across the water. This resulted in the discovery of creosote and the first creosote plant was built in the area in the late 1860s and remained in operation until 1978. 

During war World War II as many as 50 trains day ran through Ocean Springs. At the time L & N railroad was the third largest railroad in the country. We picked up our Ocean Springs walking tour map at the depot and began exploring. First, we walked down Washington Street, which is the main street in town. We encountered many shops, stores, restaurants, bars and antique businesses. We walked all around the city, stopped and visited the library and then walked back to the car and returned to Harrah’s for lunch.

This is the end of our first journey. We hope you enjoyed it.

 

Peter Graulich first left the country in 1961 for six weeks, traveling Europe and the United Kingdom with his family and returning on the S. S. United States. At the end of that trip he knew he was going to travel extensively. He and his wife, Leslye, both originally from New Jersey, frequently travel with Princess Cruises. Peter has visited about 107 countries and places, every state in the United States and every national park. The couple live in Inverness, three miles from Pete’s best friend from high school.