Biloxi Mississippi was founded in 1699 by the French when Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville established Fort Maurepas in what is now Ocean Springs. It was the capital of French Louisiana for a couple of decades before the capital was moved to New Orleans. In the late 1800s it became a beach resort town with cottages, mansions and hotels facing the Gulf of Mexico and frequented by the rich and famous. At the same time, it became the center of a huge seafood production industry, supplying the world with fish, shrimp, and oysters. Today, it’s a relatively low-key city of less than 50,000 situated on a beautiful 26 mile long stretch of man-made beach, and its downtown is dominated by casinos. For a history lover, there are a few things that might draw you off the beach – or out of the casino - temporarily.
Start your visit at the Biloxi Visitors Center. The staffers are very friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. The exhibits are informative, and you can step out from there directly to the pier, lighthouse, and beach.
At the museum, you can see his work and interesting temporary exhibits as well. It is a great place. The docents are incredibly friendly, enthusiastic, and informative. Katrina also had a major impact here, and they have mounted a special exhibit to document it. You can get a glimpse of the work here.
I must admit that I was reluctant to visit the last museum of the day, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, but I’m glad I did. True, the boats and artifacts didn’t hold much interest for me, but I was fascinated by the videos and stories of the people of Biloxi telling their stories of working in the seafood industry. Lewis Hine, a Progressive photographer, documented the child labor in the early 20th century, and you can watch videos of the people themselves recounting their lives. Can you imagine, as a child, reporting to work at a seafood factory at 4 AM, peeing shrimp or shucking oysters until school time, going to school, and then going back to work after school until 6 or 7 PM? And being paid a nickel for each 15 pounds or so of shrimp or oysters? Stories like these really make me think that there are few in America today who have a right to complain about anything.
You can see all of these things and still make it to the beach. Have a great day in Biloxi!