On Monday morning we left New Orleans and Louisiana behind and after a short 85 mile drive we arrived in Biloxi Mississippi. Monday afternoon and evening were “quiet time” after a very busy weekend in the Big Easy.
Most will recall the devastating hurricane that hit the Gulf coast back in August 2005 – Katrina. From our recollections, it seemed like New Orleans received all the press but Katrina had a very wide and destructive swath that covered 100’s of miles of coast from east Texas to Florida.
The weather had cooled considerably since NO, but we had already decided that Tuesday weather was to be the best (low 50’s with sun) so we headed out in our bikes to explore the coastline that belongs to Biloxi. We dropped into the new and very large visitors center for an hour in the morning which provided us with a good sense of the destruction that had occurred when Katrina hit. This stretch is still rebuilding after 9 years. Lots of real estate signs on ocean vacant land that once had homes and business’. As we would soon discover, most of the places we visited had only reopened in the past year or so. We went to a “re-opened seafood restaurant for lunch. It is now built on massive cement and iron stilts, I’m guessing 20-25′ in the air. They even put in an elevator as it’s that high up. Good food, good view. We then headed further down Beach Boulevard to a Marine and Seafood Industry Museum and spent a couple of hours there until their closing at 4:30. This area of the Gulf (The Emerald Coast) is called the Seafood Capital of the World. I can’t say if that’s true, but the roots of this area are all seafood and they also had/have a long history in boating and ships. Two notable items were the Nydia – a restored sailing racer from the late 1800’s and the invention of the automatic shrimp peeling machine. It replaced the work of 75-100 people. (see pics below)
Wednesday was a wet and cold day, so it was just one to laze around the “house” for the day.
Thursday morning we were on the move again, but before we left Biloxi we intended to tour Beauvoir – a National historic site about 1 1/2 miles west. Beauvoir means “beautiful view” in french. It was built back in 1848. It’s 3rd and most significant owner was Jefferson Davis(JD) – the only President of Confederate States of America. I will keep the history lesson short! Through the mid 1840’s to around 1860, JD was in the US House of Representatives and also a Senator for Mississippi. The year 1861 was when the American Civil war began(the south started it). Prior to this, several southern states (?) seceded from the Union. It was JD’s decision to return to Mississippi where he would become the Confederates 1st and only President. After 4 years of war, the confederates (the South) lost and surrendered. I’m not sure they have accepted this yet. JD was imprisoned for two years and all but one of the confederate soldiers where allowed to rejoin the Union and get their citizenship back – JD was the exception. His citizen would finally be restored almost 115 years later by Jimmy Carter in 1978.
He bought Beauvoir in 1879.
After his death(1889) and that of his wife and children, Beauvoir was turned into a retirement home(estate) for veterans of the Confederate. Over a span of 40+ years, over 1,800 would retire here and some died here – a cemetery on the 80 acre property has almost 800 gravesites. During this time several additional housing buildings were constructed. The property in the back also has a large animal range for sheep, goats, miniature horses, peacocks and a Zebu. (you can look it up)-Pic below. The main house was severely damaged by Katrina and was just restored again in 2014.
After our tour and walk around, we headed off to Alabama – about 110 miles today.
For those in the frigid north – I hope you are out looking for that darn groundhog right now!!! Stay warm, Spring is only 22 days away….