THE PINEY WOODS 153 residents depended on ports and waterways for a connection to the outside world. Although not a part of the Piney Woods proper, both New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, exerted a pull on the region, both in the antebellum period and beyond. As major cities along extensive river networks, both cities developed large market bases and possibly inhibited development of smaller market comm-unities in the Piney Woods. During this era, most centers of population in the United States developed along the coastline or waterways, which offered natural and efficient routes of travel. Although not tributaries of either the Mississippi or Mobile River systems, the rivers of South Mississippi did provide waterborne trade routes to the central market cities of New Orleans and Mobile. The Pearl and Pascagoula Rivers, and their branches in particular, served as a vehicle for trade development. New Orleans could be reached by a much shorter route from the Pearl River by entering Lake Borgne, passing through the Rigolets, and then into Lake Pontchartrain. Likewise, cotton growers in Pike County by 1840 shipped their cotton to Covington, Louisiana, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Once in Lake Pontchartrain, travelers could follow the southern shore of the lake to Bayou St. John, directly north of the city of New Orleans. A short overland portage from the bayou, or later from the Carondelet Canal, to the city culminated the journey. Native Americans surely used this route, and the French explorer Iberville followed a similar route from Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on his descent down the Mississippi River during his first voyage in 1699. Many Piney Woods merchants later took advantage of this abbreviated path to move products and supplies between the coast of South Mississippi and New Orleans. This natural trade route offered a particular advantage to settlers along the Pearl River, as the western mouth of the waterway empties directly into the area adjacent to the Rigolets and Lake Borgne. By the time of Andrew Ellicott’s survey of the Pearl River in 1778–79, small coastal ships made use of both the Pearl and the Lake Pontchartrain connection for commerce. During the territorial period, Piney Woods residents worked toward making the Pearl navigable for larger craft by eliminating logjams and clearing the waterway of other obstructions. By 1830, an active steamboat trade appeared along the Pearl River, reaching as far inland as Jackson. The most important Piney Woods settlements along the Pearl were Columbia and Monticello. Founded in 1812 as Lott’s Bluff, Columbia was the county seat of Marion County. In 1821 to 1822, the community served as the state’s center of government before the removal of the state capital to Jackson in the latter year. An adequate river landing and good road connections in all directions allowed Columbia to entrench itself as a market town with connections to multiple counties in the region. Located on a high bluff overlooking the Pearl River, Monticello was the vision of Georgia native Harmon Runnels. Incorporated in 1818, the town prospered, and in 1821 Lawrence County legislators pushed for Monticello to be the state capital. After a contentious battle, legislators instead selected a site farther up the Pearl River, LeFleur’s Bluff, as the permanent state capital. Monticello continued to thrive during the antebellum period as one of the main trading centers along the central Pearl River. Settlements also developed along the Pascagoula and its tributaries during the antebellum period, but traffic along this river in the eastern portion of the state was often bound for Mobile. Used by Native Americans for travel, the Pascagoula was suitable for navigation by vessels of shallow draft. An 1822 map by Lucas Fielding bears the following information about the Pascagoula: “…is formed by the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers, which unite in about lat. 31 N. It runs S.E. by S. about 40 miles, and falls into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a very fine river, about 200 yards wide, and is navigable by large boats through its whole course. The two branches are also navigable, the Leaf 30, and the Chickasawhay 70 miles. They are each about 80 yards wide at the junction.” Sleepy trading communities existed by 1833 at Winchester and Leakesville on the Chickasawhay River, at Augusta on the Leaf River, and at Ellisville on the Tallahalla Creek. At least one steamboat plied the waters of the Pascagoula and Chickasawhay during the antebellum period, and other large vessels carried cash crops to markets in Mobile and sometimes New Orleans. A settlement at the mouth of the Pascagoula River also allowed a coastal port to increase trade, and beginning in 1838, ship construction occurred along the lower reaches of the Pascagoula. Much like the Pearl River communities, the small hamlets along the Pascagoula served primarily as way stations between the farming hinterland and the regional market city of Mobile. A river location certainly assisted town formation by providing increased traffic along one of the primary avenues of transportation during the antebellum era, but these routes alone could not ensure community success. Along the upper tributaries, large-scale navigation was often not possible, but Pascagoula River allowed a coastal port to increase trade, and beginning in 1838, ship construction occurred along the lower reaches of the Pascagoula.