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Gulfport Mississippi History
by Dan Ellis
This history on Gulfport was initially prompted by the City's Centennial celebration preparations. Sun-Herald reporter Geoff Pender said of Ellis, “a former history teacher provides in-depth research and vivid storytelling as he paints clear pictures of the city''s founding fathers, Captain William Harris Hardy and Captain Joseph T. Jones.” “City leaders who organized Gulfport's centennial celebration have praised Ellis' research and writing and relied on the book for much of their research for the new Gulfport photo museum in the downtown Union Station Depot.
“Ellis also seeks out people on the Coast who can tell the story – as Ellis remarks that 'If you don't follow a pattern in finding storytellers, then a lot of people who aren't interested in history are not going to read these books'.”
As the book unfolds with surveyors' stakes being driven into cleared spaces in the wilderness in 1887, – all, which was in preparation for a terminus to receive the new railroad from Jackson, and as a port extension to Ship Island. The town had starts and stops with the early troubles of railroad construction – the town was finally born when it received its charter and a new mayor in 1898.
The early 1900s saw the advent of many of the existing downtown buildings, including the now defunct Great Southern Hotel, and the building of the Coast Trolley railway system followed by the seawall.
During and following World War I, new developments included an airfield, several hospitals, and the beginnings of the present day Military infrastructure. Business and social organizations included the Yacht Club, Business associations, the Elks Lodge and Mardi Gras. One of the major and continuing events is the Worlds' Largest Seafood Rodeo.
Within its first 100 years, Gulfport succeeded in becoming the State's second largest city. Through consequential annexation, Gulfport is continuing in a course of growth by expansion. Bordered on the West by Long Beach and by Biloxi on its East, the city continues to manifest itself northward by absorbing towns and communities that had first come to exist with the laying of the north-south rail system – that was the original determination of Gulfport as its terminus.
Ship Island is revealed from its early explorations by D'Iberville, through periods as a major port anchorage, an immigration port, a quarantine station, a staging ground for troops during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and a site for a series of lighthouses. Today, the barrier island is part of the National Park Service with Park Rangers maintaining Fort Massachusetts along with the many wilderness attractions for tourists.
“Gulfport Discovered” has more than 200 photos, maps, and illustrations that greatly improves the understanding for the Reader.
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