See Rock City

See Rock City

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Biloxi, MS

Biloxi (pronounced /bəˈlʌksi/ is a city in Harrison County, Mississippi, in the United States. The 2000 census recorded the population as 50,644. Biloxi is co–county seat with the larger city Gulfport, in the Gulfport–Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Gulfport–Biloxi–Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. Pre-Katrina, Biloxi was the third largest city in Mississippi; but with its population losses following that storm, Hattiesburg now has that distinction.

A view of the Sound from Biloxi, Mississippi.

The Mississippi Sound is a sound along the Gulf Coast of the United States. It runs east-west along the southern coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, from Waveland, Mississippi to the Dauphin Island Bridge, a distance of about 145 kilometers (90 mi). The sound is bordered on its southern edge by the barrier islands - Cat, Ship, Horn, Petit Bois and Dauphin Islands - which are part of the National Park Service's Gulf Islands National Seashore. Those islands separate the sound from the Gulf of Mexico.

File:BiloxiLightHouseandVisitorsCenter.jpg The Biloxi Lighthouse and the Biloxi Visitors Center in November 2011. The lighthouse is the city's signature landmark.

Large portions of the Mississippi Sound reach depths of about 6 meters (20 ft). Part of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway traverses the sound with a project depth of 3.6 meters (12 ft). The waterway, maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, is designed for towboat and barge traffic. Most of its route through the sound is merely an imaginary line through water whose depth exceeds the project depth. A section west of Cat Island and the portion north of Dauphin Island rely on dredged channels marked by aids to navigation maintained by the US Coast Guard.

Big catch of lemon fish, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1954. Standing: Sam Williams, Gulfport Chamber of Commerce Secretary and boat captain. Sitting: Joseph Caro, Walter F. Fountain, and Anthony V. Raugsin, Biloxi Chamber of Commerce Secretary.

Deepwater ports along the sound include Gulfport and Pascagoula. Dredged ship channels running basically north-south connect those ports to the Gulf of Mexico, running between pairs of the barrier islands.

The Pascagoula River flows into the sound.

The Pascagoula River is a river, about 80 mi (130 km) long, in southeastern Mississippi in the United States. The river drains an area of about 8,800 sq mi (23,000 km²) and flows into Mississippi Sound of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is significant as the only unaffected (or nearly so) river flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the United States and the only one the Cfa Köppen climate zone. As a result, the Pascagoula has in modern times been the focus of a great deal of effort regarding its conservation to prevent the constructions of dams on it.

The Pascagoula River is formed in northwestern George County by the confluence of the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers and flows generally southward through swampy bottomlands in George and Jackson Counties. In its lower course the river forms several channels and bayous; its largest such distributary is the West Pascagoula River, which flows into the Mississippi Sound at Gautier. The main channel passes Escatawpa and Moss Point and flows into the sound at Pascagoula.

The beachfront of Biloxi lies directly on the Mississippi Sound, with barrier islands scattered off the coast and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico in 3D perspective.

The Gulf of Mexico (Spanish: Golfo de México) is the ninth largest body of water in the world. Considered a smaller part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The shape of its basin is roughly oval and approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and filled with sedimentary rocks and debris. It is part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea (with which it forms the American Mediterranean Sea) via the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba. Tidal ranges are extremely small due to the narrow connection with the ocean. The gulf basin is approximately 615,000 mi² (1.6 million km²). Almost half of the basin is shallow intertidal waters. At its deepest it is 14,383 ft (4,384 m) at the Sigsbee Deep, an irregular trough more than 300 nautical miles (550 km) long. It was probably formed approximately 300 million years ago as a result of the seafloor sinking. There is evidence that the Chicxulub Crater was formed when a large meteorite hit the earth 65 million years ago which may have led to the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event.

Keesler Air Force Base lies within the city and is home to the 81st Training Wing of the U.S. Air Force.

Air, Education & Training Command

Keesler Air Force Base (IATA: BIX, ICAO: KBIX, FAA LID: BIX) is a United States Air Force base located in Biloxi, a city in Harrison County, Mississippi, United States.

The base is home of Headquarters, 2d Air Force (2 AF) and the 81st Training Wing (81 TW) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The 81 TW is responsible for the technical training of airmen in select skill areas immediately following their completion of basic training as well as providing additional or recurrent training they will need for upcoming assignments. On average, Keesler has 4,700 students on base at a time. Much of the training they receive is in the field of electronics, such as wideband maintenance, ground radio, information technology, avionics, cryptography. The 81st Training Wing also trains personnel in the field of meteorology, to include observing, weather analysis and forecasting, radar operations, air traffic control, Aviation Resource Management (ARMS), and tropical cyclone forecasting

Keesler AFB

The 81st Medical Group is also located at the base and operates the second largest medical center in the Air Force. Other groups assigned to Keesler AFB include the 45th Airlift Squadron (45 AS), which provides training in the C-21 Learjet. The Air Force Reserve Command's 403d Wing (403 WG) also located at Keesler is an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained composite unit which provides theater airlift support through the 815th Airlift Squadron and its C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as serving as the parent unit to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a WC-130 unit also known as the "Hurricane Hunters."

Keesler AFB is one of the largest technical training wings in the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). There are 5 training squadrons located in the triangle (Training complex). The 332nd, 334th, 335th, 336th, and the 338th.


In early January 1941, Biloxi city officials assembled a formal offer to invite the United States Army to build a base to support the World War II training buildup. The War Department activated Army Air Corps Station No. 8, Aviation Mechanics School, Biloxi, Mississippi, on 12 June 1941. On August 25, 1941, the base was dedicated as Keesler Army Airfield, in honor of 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., a Mississippi native and distinguished aerial gunner, killed in action in France during the First World War.

Cancer drive, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1955.

Congress initially appropriated $6 million for construction at Biloxi and an additional $2 million for equipment. By the time the War Department allocated the funds in April 1941, the projected cost had risen to $9.6 million. On 14 June 1941, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts totaling $10 million to build Biloxi's technical training school. At the time, it was the most expensive government project to have been undertaken in the State of Mississippi.

When the War Department activated Keesler Field in June 1941, not only was Keesler getting a technical training center, but it would getting one of the Army's newest replacement, or basic training centers. The first shipment of recruits arrived at Keesler Field on 21 August 1941. Many stayed at Keesler to become airplane and engine mechanics, while others transferred to aerial gunnery or aviation cadet schools.

File:Howard Street Biloxi Mississippi 1906.jpgLooking West down Howard Avenue at Lameuse Street in Biloxi in 1906

The Tuskegee Airmen were trained at Keesler. In fact, more than 7,000 Black soldiers were stationed at Keesler Field by the autumn of 1943. These soldiers included pre-aviation cadets, radio operators, aviation technicians, bombardiers, and aviation mechanics.

Keesler continued to focus upon specialized training in B-24 maintenance until mid-1944. Thereafter, the base was directed to expand its mechanics training curricula to include other aircraft.

By September 1944, the number of recruits had dropped, but the workload remained constant, as Keesler personnel began processing veteran ground troops and combat crews who had returned from duty overseas for additional training and follow on assignments. Basic training wound down very drastically after the end of World War II, and it was finally discontinued at Keesler on 30 June 1946.

After World War II,

In late May 1947, the Radar School arrived on Keesler making it responsible for operating the two largest military technical schools in the United States. Thereafter, shrinking budgets forced the base to reduce its operating costs: the Airplane and Engine Mechanics School and the Radar School were consolidated on 1 April 1948.

File:Biloxi Lighthouse 2010.jpg
Biloxi Lighthouse, built in 1848 and reputed to be one of the most photographed objects in the American South.

In early 1949, the Radio Operations School transferred to Keesler from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. In addition to training radio operators, Keesler was to begin teaching air traffic service technicians; aircraft approach controllers, ground radar mechanics, and radar repairman/ground controlled approach specialists. The last mechanics training courses had moved to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, by November.

In early 1956, Keesler entered the missile age by opening a ground support training program for the Atlas missile. In 1958, all control tower operator, radio maintenance, and general radio operator courses came to be under Keesler's already broad technical training roof.

During the early 1960s, Keesler lost many of its airborne training courses, but Keesler still remained the largest training base throughout the 1970s. This included limited flight training operations in the T-28 Trojan for South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) student pilots.

Keesler's student load dropped to an all-time low after the Vietnam War ended. As a result, Air Training Command inactivated the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences on 1 April 1977 and replaced it with the 3300th Technical Training Wing, which activated the same day.

During the early 1980s Keesler's air traffic control program garnered publicity - when the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization walked off the job in August 1981. When President Ronald Reagan fired the strikers, Keesler-trained military air traffic controllers were used to direct some of the nation's air traffic. As the air traffic control school, it was also the logical location for the USAF Combat Controllers.

Keesler AFB was the primary training base for many avionics maintenance career fields including Electronic Warfare, Navigational Aids, Computer Repair and Ground Radio Repair. It was also the primary training base for most USAF administrative career fields.


Driven by deep defense budget cuts, base closures forced an end to technical training at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, and Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado. Keesler acquired Chanute's weather forecasting courses and Lowry's meteorology and precision measurement equipment laboratory training programs from 1992-1993.

August 31, 2005: C-17 Globemasters unload supplies at Keesler following Hurricane Katrina.

Massive restructuring of the Air Force in the early 1990s meant several changes for Keesler associate units. The first occurred when the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was inactivated, transferred to the Air Force Reserve and reactivated on 30 June 1991.

Yet another major change occurred on 1 July 1993, when Keesler Training Center inactivated. At the same Air Training Command was redesignated the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), and the command reactivated Second Air Force (2 AF) and stationed it at Keesler. 2 AF's mission is to oversee all technical training conducted within AETC.

Keesler students evacuated to Sheppard AFB on a C-17

Hurricane Katrina,

On August 29, 2005 Keesler sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, which made its third Gulf Coast landfall as a Category 3 storm approximately 30 miles west. Although non-essential personnel and Hurricane Hunter planes had been evacuated in advance, "drastic damage" was sustained by the base's industrial and housing areas. Due to storm surge about 50% of the base came under water; the commissary, Base Exchange and some base housing units were flooded with more than six feet of water. By August 31, however, relief flights were landing at the base. On September 1 the first set of Airmen were evacuated to Sheppard AFB, TX. Other Airmen arrived the next day also, to a welcoming session where they were given basic toiletry items and phone cards to call home.

Officers' Club at Keesler Field as it appeared during World War II. "Partial view of the Dining Room, Officers' Club, Keesler Field, Mississippi. The mural scene, painted by Cpl. Claude Marks, shows the harvesting and processing of cane sugar in Louisiana around 1859." Source: U. S. Government postcard. Date of postcard unknown, probably about 1944.

Colonial era,

The history of Biloxi, Mississippi, spans more than 300 years.

The first permanent settlement in French Louisiana was founded at Fort Maurepas, now in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and referred to as Old Biloxi, in 1699 under the direction of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, with Louisiana separated from Spanish Florida at the Perdido River near Pensacola (founded 1559 & again 1698).

The name of Biloxi in French was "Bilocci" (with "fort Maurepas"), and the name was sometimes translated into English as "Fort Bilocci" on maps updated circa year 1710/1725.

In 1720, the administrative capital of French Louisiana was moved to Biloxi (or Bilocci) from Mobile (or Mobille). French Louisiana (part of New France) was known in French as La Louisiane in colonial times, but in modern times is called "La Louisiane française" to distinguish from the modern state of Louisiana (also "Louisiane" in French).

Due to fears of tides and hurricanes in the 1700s, the capital of French Louisiana was later moved by colonial governor Bienville, in 1723, from Biloxi to a new inland harbor town named La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans), built for the purpose in 1718-1720.

In 1763, France had to cede French Louisiana east of the Mississippi River, except for New Orleans, to Great Britain. At that same time, the king Louis XV of France sold Louisiana west of the Mississippi, including New Orleans, to Spain.

Subsequent history,

British rule persisted from 1763 to 1779, and then Spanish rule from 1779 to 1798. Despite this, the character of Biloxi remained mostly French. In 1811, Biloxi came under United States of America control as part of the Mississippi Territory. Mississippi, and Biloxi with it, were then admitted to the union in 1817.

Now that ownership was settled, Biloxi began to grow. It became a summer resort, with the advantages of close proximity to New Orleans and ease of access via water. Summer homes were built by well-to-do farmers and commercial figures. Hotels and rental cottages came into existence to serve those who could not afford their own homes.

Biloxi Lighthouse, built 1848 and reputed to be one of the most photographed objects in the American South.

Biloxi Lighthouse, built 1848 and reputed to be one of the most photographed objects in the American South. One of Biloxi's most known features has been Biloxi Lighthouse, which was built in Baltimore and then shipped south and completed in May 1848. (It and another are the only surviving lighthouses of twelve that once dotted the Mississippi Gulf Coast.)

File:Biloxi Casinos.JPGBiloxi Casinos

In the early stages of the Civil War, Ship Island was captured by Union forces, which led to the effective Union capture of Biloxi as well. No major battles were fought in the area, and Biloxi did not suffer direct damage from the war. Some local Union sentiment could be discerned following the war's conclusion.

Welcome sign to Ship Island and Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Ship Island is the collective name for two barrier islands off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore: East Ship Island and West Ship Island. Hurricane Camille split the once single island into 2 separate islands in 1969.


Fort Massachusetts

Having the only deep-water harbor between Mobile Bay and the Mississippi River, the island served as a vital anchorage for ships bearing explorers, colonists, sailors, soldiers, defenders and invaders.

Ship Island's original brick and mortar 1853 lighthouse.

Ship Island's 1886 wooden lighthouse. It was accidentally burned down in 1972 by campers.

Ship Island's 1999 replica of the 1886 lighthouse. Hurricane Katrina destroyed it in 2005.

The French, Spanish, British, Confederate and Union flags have all flown over Ship Island.

French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville charted Ship Island in February 1699, which he used as a base of operations in discovering the mouth of the Mississippi River. The island served as a point of immigration to French colonies in the New World. Some immigrants died upon arrival at Ship Island, and their bodies were burned in a furnace.

In 1702, the island was named Ship Island due to its protected deepwater anchorage. The island served as the principle port of entry from Europe for colonists from 1720 until 1724. The island was given to Great Britain by France at the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 and in 1783, at the end of the American Revolution, Great Britain transferred the island to Spain.

The United States, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, claimed the island in 1810.

In the War of 1812, Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane anchored between Ship Island and Cat Island with a fleet of fifty British warships and 7,500 soldiers in preparations for the Battle of New Orleans and the island was used as a launching point for British forces.

In 1849, the U.S. Navy anchored at Ship Island to discourage assembly of mercenaries on nearby islands for paramilitary invasion of Cuba.

In 1853, the island's first lighthouse was built. It was made of brick and mortar.

In 1858, Mississippi passed legislation that gave jurisdiction over the island to the United States government. After the war, Congress approved an ambitious plan to construct state-of-the-art masonry fortifications at strategic locations along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including Ship Island. Construction of Fort Massachusetts began in 1859, but was halted due to the Civil War, when the island also became a prison for Confederate P.O.W.'s, and a base for the U.S. Second Regiment (Louisiana Native Guards led by Colonel Nathan W. Daniels), one of the first African-American combat units to fight in the Civil War. On July 9th, 1861, a twenty-minute cannon exchange between Confederates on the island and the USS Massachusetts took place and in 1862 the fort was named Fort Massachusetts in honor of the Union warship. The fort was finally completed in 1866.

The January 4, 1862 edition of Harper's Weekly describes Ship Island:

SHIP ISLAND was occupied by the advance-guard of General Butler's expedition on 3d December: The troops consisted of the 26th Massachusetts and 9th Connecticut Volunteers, under command of Brigadier-General Phelps. They left Massachusetts in the steamer Constitution; their embarkation was duly illustrated in Harper's Weekly at the time. On 3d inst., as we said, they arrived at their destination, landed, and occupied the island without molestation. It is understood that they are to be followed by other troops, on whose arrival operations will be commenced against Mobile or New Orleans, or both. The following account of Ship Island will, with our illustrations, enable our readers to understand the importance of the movement:

Ship Island is situated in longitude 89 and a little north of latitude 30, and is the property of the State of Mississippi. It is about sixty miles from New Orleans, nearly the same distance from the Northeast Pass, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, forty miles from Mobile, and ninety from Fort Pickens. It lies between Horn Island on the east and Cat Island on the west, and is distant about five miles from each. Some ten or twelve miles to the north, on the main land of Mississippi, are the towns of Biloxi, Pascagoula, and Mississippi City. These towns are favorite summer resorts for the wealthy planters and merchants of the Gulf States, and, in consequence of a bar off their shore, are now the places of refuge for rebel gun-boats.

Ship Island is somewhat undulating, and extends in a slight curve about seven miles east-northeast and westsouthwest. At West Point (the western end), where the fort is located, the island is little more than an eighth of a mile wide, and is a mere sand spit, utterly barren of grass or foliage of any kind. This eastern end, or East Point, is about three-quarters of a mile in width, and is well wooded with pine, cedar, and live-oak.

The whole island contains a fraction less than two square miles of territory. Excellent water can be obtained in unlimited supply by sinking a barrel any where on the place. The great advantage of this is too palpable to require comment.

The island possesses a very superior harbor, into which nineteen feet can be carried at ordinarily low water. It is situated north of the west end of the island. The anchorage, with water equal to the depth on the bar, is five miles long, and averages three and a quarter miles in width. The harbor is safe for the most dangerous storms in the Gulf—those from the eastward, southward and eastward, and southward—and might be easily entered during these storms without a pilot, if good light-houses were placed in proper positions. The rise and fall of the tide is only from twelve to fourteen inches.

Accompanying Harper's Weekly January 4, 1862 illustration of Ship Island and Fort Massachusetts.

FORT MASSACHUSETTS, of which we give an illustration, is thus described in the Herald letter:

This fort, which is situated on the sand spit at the extreme western end of the island, is nearly circular in shape, somewhat resembling a pear in form. As I have stated elsewhere, its construction was commenced by the federal Government, and when in a state of considerable progress was burned by the rebels, who afterward rebuilt and then abandoned it. It is of brick, and rendered bomb-proof by sand-bags place fire or six feet deep in front of the walls.

The rebels built eleven casemates, and our forces have built two more since they have occupied the fort. The casemates are bomb-proof. The fort is at present but one tier high. It is provided with Dahlgren's 9-inch shell guns of very heavy calibre and in perfect order, and they are hourly expecting sixteen more very heavy guns from Pensacola. Besides this, Captain Manning's battery have landed five of their steel rifled cannon, with the Sawyer projectile. There were six of these guns on board the Constitution, but unfortunately one of them was lost overboard in removing them from the transport. It is hoped that they will be able to recover it, as a buoy floats right over the spot where it fell.

In 1880, the island was designated as the country's first quarantine station. The fort closed in 1903 and the quarantine station was placed on reserve status in 1916.

In 1886, a wooden lighthouse was built to replace the 1853-built brick lighthouse that was damaged by waves.

Entrance to Fort Massachusetts

During World War II, the Coast Guard used the island for anti-submarine beach patrol. In 1942, the Army Air Corps used the quarantine station as a military recreation facility, as did Keesler Air Force Base in 1955.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille with its 30 foot tidal surge cut the island into 2 separate islands, to form East Ship Island and West Ship Island. East Ship Island is mostly vegetation and wildlife while West Ship Island is a tourist destination.

In 1972, the original 1886 wooden lighthouse was accidentally burned down by campers.

In 1998, Hurricane Georges washed away a mile of East Ship Island's beach.

In 1999, Friends of Gulf Islands National Seashore dedicated a commemorative reproduction of the 1886 wooden lighthouse.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina almost completely submerged East Ship Island. West Ship Island received most of the damage as Katrina's 30 foot tidal surge wiped out the visitor and employee facilities on the island as well as the island's pier and board-walk. These facilities included offices and sleeping quarters for National Park Service staff, public restrooms and showers, and the public concessions building where visitors could purchase most items found in a regular convenience store. Fort Massachusetts received minimal damage and was soon reopened to the public. The pier and boardwalk were rebuilt as well. Currently, temporary restrooms and a small concessions trailer are on the island while new facilities are rebuilt. Unfortunately, the 1886 commemorative reproduction lighthouse that was dedicated in 1999 on the island, was reduced to rubble.

Ship Island (right) before (April 2001, bottom) and after (September 2005, top) Hurricane Katrina.

In 2008, Ship Island was surveyed just 2 weeks after Hurricane Ike. Scientist had a difficult time finding the island. The eastern half of the island had completely disappeared leaving only parts of the western half. It is unknown whether the island was eroded by Hurricane Ike, or more likely Hurricane Gustav that hit just 2 weeks earlier.


Today, West Ship Island serves as a tourist destination. Activities include fishing, swimming, and tours of Fort Massachusetts.

In the postbellum period, Biloxi again emerged as a vacation spot. Its popularity as a destination increased with railroad access. In 1881, the first cannery was built in the town, leading to others soon joining the location. Biloxi grew again, and as different national groups came to work in the seafood factories, Biloxi gained a more heterogeneous nature.

During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces built Keesler Air Force Base, which became a major basic training site and site for aircraft maintenance. The Biloxi economy boomed as a result, againing bring more diverse groups to the area. By 1958, the first Jewish synagogue had been built in the town.

Biloxi's casino history dates back to a period in the 1940s, when open if technically illegal gambling took place in a casino within the Broadwater Beach Resort. Open gambling ended during the 1950s. The Mississippi Gulf Coast became known as the "Poor Man's Riviera", and was frequented by Southern families interested in fishing expeditions during the summer. Commercially, Biloxi was dominated by shrimp boats and oyster luggers.

In the early 1960s, the Gulf Coast again emerged as a prime alternative to Florida as a southern vacation destination among Northerners, with Biloxi a center of the focus. Biloxi hotels upgraded their amenities and hired chefs from France and Switzerland in an effort to provide some of the best seafood cuisine in the country.

With the introduction of legal gambling in Mississippi in the 1990s, Biloxi was again transformed. It became an important center for casinos, and the hotels and complexes brought millions of dollars in tourism revenue to the city. The more famous casino complexes were the Beau Rivage casino resort, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (Biloxi), Casino Magic, Grand Casino, Isle of Capri Casino Resort, Boomtown Casino, President Casino Broadwater Resort, and Imperial Palace. Like Tunica County in the northern part of the state, Biloxi and the surrounding Gulf Coast region was considered a leading gambling center in the Southern United States.

To celebrate the area's Tricentennial in 1998/99, the city's tourism promotion agency invited the nationally-syndicated Travel World Radio Show to broadcast live from Biloxi, with co-host Willem Bagchus in attendance.

By the early 2000s, Biloxi's economy rested on the three prongs of seafood, tourism, and gaming.

Hurricane Katrina,

Main articles: Hurricane Katrina and Effect of Hurricane Katrina on Mississippi

Biloxi beach near casinos, before cleanup,

Beuvoir, home of Jefferson Davis, being restored after Hurricane Katrina,

St. Michael's Church in Biloxi (before clean-up),

Sharkheads shop: Katrina example for over 2 years

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast with high winds, heavy rains and a 30-foot (9.1 m) storm surge, causing massive damage to the area. Katrina came ashore during the high tide of 6:56AM, +2.3 feet more. Commenting on the power of the storm and the damage, Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "This is our tsunami." Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was quoted as saying the destruction of the Mississippi coastline by Hurricane Katrina looked like an American Hiroshima.

On the morning of August 31, 2005, in an interview on MSNBC, Governor Barbour stated that 90% of the buildings along the coast in Biloxi and neighboring Gulfport had been destroyed by the hurricane. Several of the "floating" casinos were torn off their supports and thrown inland, contributing to the damage. All coastal churches were destroyed or severely damaged.

Many churches were damaged, including St. Michael's Catholic Church which was gutted by the storm surge, breaking the entry doors and stained-glass windows along the first floor; however, the interior was later removed, and the structure was still solid enough to allow repairing the church.


Biloxi has become home to several casino resort hotels, with 24-hour gambling, concert entertainment shows, and several restaurants. Some of the casino resorts are the following:

Isle of Capri casino in Biloxi

Biloxi Casinos

IP Casino Resort Spa re-opened on Dec. 22, 2005, formerly Imperial Palace.

Isle of Capri Casino Resort re-opened in late December 2005.

Palace Casino Resort re-opened in late December 2005.

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino re-opened August 29, 2006, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Boomtown Casino re-opened in 2006.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which had initially hoped to open for post-Katrina business in Summer 2006, but opened later than expected in June 2007.

Treasure Bay Casino Resort re-opened in summer 2006.

Grand Biloxi is re-opened and has built a casino in its formerly named Bayview Hotel.

Bacaran Bay Resort is being redesigned and will soon be under construction on Caillavet Street between IP Hotel and Casino and Beau Rivage.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino and Resort, announced by Harrah's to be built on the site of the old Grand Casino Biloxi and Casino Magic properties.

Island View Casino Resort is nearby Gulfport's only casino and home to one of world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurants.

Hollywood Casino is located in Bay St. Louis and includes an on-site golf course and movie cinema decor.

The Silver Slipper was the first land-based casino to open following Hurricane Katrina. This beachfront resort is located just outside Bay St. Louis, west of Biloxi.

Biloxi's neighbor D'Iberville will be home to former MGM exec Peter Simon's newly approved casino The Monarch.

D'Iberville will also be the future home of Royal D'Iberville Casino Resort, a newly approved project.

Bayview Casino Resort will begin construction in January 2008 on the Back Bay of Biloxi.

Vue Crescente Resort has begun its application to house a casino within its new twin 30 floor condo towers that are being built on the Back Bay of Biloxi.

Tivoli Resort, The Ocean Club, and a Long Beach project are recently proposed casino additions to the metro area.

File:OhrOkeefe 3.jpg
Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Art campus in Biloxi

Hurricane Katrina damaged over 40 Mississippi libraries, flooding several feet in the Biloxi Public Library and breaking windows, beyond repair, requiring a total rebuild.

Hurricane-force winds persisted for 17 hours and tore the branches off many coastal oak trees, but the tree trunks survived the 30-foot (9.1 m) flood and many have since regrown smaller branches. Some reconstructed homes still have the antebellum appearance, and miles inland, with less flooding, shopping centers have re-opened.

Harrison County Coroner Gary T. Hargrove told the mayor and City Council that Hurricane Katrina had claimed 53 victims in Biloxi, as of January 30, 2006. Of the 53confirmed fatalities in Biloxi, a figure that includes one unidentified male, Hargrove said the average age was 58, with youngest being 22 and oldest, 90; and 14 were females and 39 were males.

Biloxi is also the site of a well-known memorial to the Katrina victims, built by the crew and volunteers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Many casinos were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Of the casinos that were located in Biloxi, eight have reopened since Katrina. They are: the Grand Biloxi Casino Hotel Spa(formerly known as Grand Casino Biloxi), the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Isle of Capri Casino and Resort, the Palace Casino Resort, the IP Casino Resort Spa (formerly known as Imperial Palace), Treasure Bay Casino, Boomtown Casino, and the Beau Rivage, which re-opened on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Multiple plans have been laid out to rebuild the waterfront areas of Biloxi, and the federal government has recently announced that it is considering giving up to 17,000 Mississippi coast homeowners the option to sell their properties so that a vast hurricane-protection zone can be implemented. Meanwhile, the city of Biloxi is rapidly implementing plans to allow the redevelopment of commercial properties south of highway 90.


Biloxi's main highway is U.S. Highway 90 (Beach Boulevard), which runs along the beach and by the casinos. It connects the city to Gulfport and points westward and to Ocean Springs and Pascagoula to the east. The Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge across Biloxi Bay was rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina, and was fully reopened in April 2008.

Through the northern sections of the city, Interstate 10 passes through, connecting the city to New Orleans, Louisiana, Houston, Texas, Mobile, Alabama and Jacksonville, Florida. Interstate 110 splits off from I-10 at D'Iberville and heads south across the Back Bay of Biloxi to U.S. 90 near Beau Rivage, providing the city with an important hurricane evacuation route.

Other highways serving the area include:

Mississippi Highway 15 (Runs concurrent with I-110 for the first few miles)
Mississippi Highway 67


In the center of what fisheries biologists term "The Fertile Fisheries Crescent", Biloxi offers some of the finest sportsfishing along the entire northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Spotted seatrout, red drum, Spanish and king mackerel, flounder, snapper, grouper, sharks, and more are all available to anglers during the fishing season. It is not known how Hurricane Katrina affected this ecosystem.

The city is home to the Mississippi Sea Wolves, an ECHL minor league hockey team.

Notable residents

In the Arts

  • 2010 saw the grand opening of the new Frank Gehry designed Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Art.
  • Biloxi is the setting of Neil Simon's play and film Biloxi Blues, which starred Mathew Broderick. Biloxi Blues is the story of army recruits training at Keesler Field, the former name of the present day Keesler Air Force Base during World War II.
  • Biloxi is the setting of several John Grisham novels, including The Runaway Jury, The Summons, The Partner, and The Last Juror.
  • A substantial portion of Larry Brown's novel Fay is set in Biloxi.
  • The G.I. Joe character Marvin F. Hinton ("Roadblock") was born in Biloxi.
  • The film Private Benjamin starring Goldie Hawn is partially set in Biloxi and at a fictitious base called Fort Biloxi.
  • In the show Family Matters, Steve Urkel's cousin Myrtle Urkel, who frequently chases Eddie Winslow when she visits Chicago, is from Biloxi.
  • American singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester once wrote and recorded a song called "Biloxi", for which he was inspired by a few images he saw of the city.
  • On his largest-selling regular album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977), Jimmy Buffett included a cover of "Biloxi" (see above); also, a compilation album of his digitally remastered greatest hits was released in 1995 called Biloxi.
  • RFC 3261 SIP: Session Initiation Protocol, the authors use Biloxi in an example to explain how a call is made through two SIP proxies.
  • In the television show the Venture Bros. character Brock Sampson is mentioned as having trained in Biloxi.
  • The song Louisiana, by The Loved Ones, is about the rebuilding of the hurricane ravaged areas in the gulf area. Louisiana, Biloxi, and Alabama are specifically used by name.
  • The fictional character Alice Cullen from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga used to live in Biloxi, Mississippi, when she was a human.
  • American Soldier Walter Gordon fought with the Band of Brothers, earning him four Purple Hearts.
  • Biloxi is referenced in The Great Gatsby.
  • Biloxi is referenced in a line of the title song of the musical Guys and Dolls.
  • Style Network's Ruby was filmed in Biloxi during the episode "Mississippi Memories".
  • American rock band The Gaslight Anthem have a song titled 'Biloxi Parish' on their 2012 album Handwritten.
  • American author John Kennedy Toole, who wrote 'A Confederacy of Dunces', committed suicide in Biloxi in 1969.
  • Henry Miller in his book The Air-Conditioned Nightmare(1945) notes that "The only town which gave me genuine and pleasant surprise was Biloxi, Mississippi".
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Source: Internet