Bay St Louis Mississippi
In 1699, the French were sailing north and west along the east coast of the United States; they landed on Ship Island after failing to detect Mobile Bay. Contact was established with the natives at Biloxi, and before heading west to the Mississippi River, the French camped on the banks of the Bay of Saint Louis. After locating the river, the remainder of the time was spent exploring the mighty Mississippi as far north as Baton Rouge. The French returned to the Bay of Saint Louis, spending a month building Fort Maurepas at what is now Ocean Springs. Thirty-five men were left behind at the colony when the other Frenchmen returned to France.
The men left behind explored the Bay of Saint Louis, naming it for Louis IX, the King of France who led the Crusades into the Holy Land. A colony was established at Bay St. Louis—the third colony located on the Gulf of Mexico. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the territory was opened up to homesteaders—within three years, 3,300 people moved into the area from the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. Many settled across the Coast from Mobile to the Bay of Saint Louis, but there would be no bridge across the bay for another 110 years.
Bay St. Louis was incorporated in 1818 by the Mississippi State Legislature, although the colony remained primarily French, somewhat isolated from the Americans. Eventually, Bay St. Louis became known for the wealthy New Orleanians summer homes, effectively reinforcing the French culture of the city. New Orleans culture has shaped the social customs, as well as the culinary and artistic customs of the people of Bay St. Louis which has become renowned over the years for its highly acclaimed artists, fine dining and hospitable atmosphere.
Bay St. Louis is located in Hancock County and is the county seat. Located on the Gulf Coast, on the west side of the bay, the population of Bay St. Louis was nearly 13,000 in 2016. The city lost a considerable portion of its population in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage and significant evacuations. Interstate 10 passes through the northern extension of Bay St. Louis; traveling east on I-10 will lead to Biloxi, and southwest just 54 miles will lead to New Orleans. Adjacent cities and towns include Diamondhead, Pass Christian, and Waveland. Jacob Lindgren, an MLB player is from Bay St. Louis, as is Albert J. Raboteau, a Black scholar and professor at Princeton for more than 30 years.
The Bay St. Louis Beach is a favorite destination for tourists, as well as for residents. The beautiful, white sandy beach along the waterfront has a newly constructed walkway, as well as a bike path. The beach is pristine, peaceful, and stunning. Another favorite is the Alice Mosely Museum, filled with 52 works of art by Alice Mosely, as well as a striking collection of vintage bottles, Majolica vases, depression glass, and other antiques.
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