THE COAST 53 future site of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach; Handsboro, named after Miles and Loren Hand, boasted sawmills and brickyards. Thus, prior to becoming an official county, the area had earlier enjoyed a growing economy and a spate of developing towns. The steamboats that chugged on the waters along the Mississippi Gulf Coast originally made scheduled stops at Shieldsboro (Bay St. Louis) in Hancock County and Pass Christian in Harrison County. Shieldsboro on the Bay of St. Louis once attracted Natchezians who journeyed down to the town to partake of the cool summer breezes and enjoy the local seafood. With expanded boat service, by the last two decades of the antebellum era, many of the passengers on boats such as the Creole, which ran seven days a week, were New Orleanians who would day-trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast; others were more wealthy people from the Crescent City who owned homes mostly in Pass Christian. Regardless of their social status, they all enjoyed the attractions of the “Six Sisters.” At other times, these tourist destinations supposedly offered safe havens from yellow fever epidemics, particularly for the citizens of New Orleans. They believed the seacoast environment of coastal Mississippi was a salubrious haven. The two worst epidemics in 1853 and 1878 forced many people from that city and other locales to come to Harrison, Hancock, and Jackson County hotels, making the owners happy to have a full house even in dire times. However, fleeing New Orleanians often did not find the safety they had hoped for, as they inadvertently spread the disease. Medical science would not prove that mosquitos carried the disease until 1905, so “Yellow Jack” was doubly terrifying since no one knew where it came from. Establishments such as the Pass Christian Hotel in Harrison County beckoned visitors with its delights as a “watering place” in the 1840s and 1850s. Included in its many attractions were horseback riding, billiards, fishing, dancing, and bathing in the Gulf. The hotel also introduced sailboat races in 1849 and was the site of the first organized sailing group, the Southern Regatta Club, or as it is known today, the Pass Christian Yacht Club. This sailing association is the second oldest organization in the United States (the New York Club is the first). It was leveled by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it has been rebuilt, and it now boasts a 10,000 square-foot clubhouse with a fifteen- slip marina. By 1850, Mississippi City suffered a setback when the state legislature by one vote bypassed it in favor of Oxford to be the site of the proposed University of Mississippi. Also, it did not develop into the port city that some had envisioned for it since it was too far from the natural deepwater harbor of Ship Island. Mississippi City did BILOXI LIGHTHOUSE The Biloxi Lighthouse was completed in 1848 and operated by civilians until 1939. The lighthouse was one of the first cast- iron lighthouses in the South and, to this day, is a very well-known landmark in Biloxi. The U.S. Coast Guard took over operations in 1939. After being given to the city in 1968, the lighthouse opened to the public for touring. The Biloxi Lighthouse survived many storms, but Hurricane Katrina overtook one third of the structure. The wind destroyed the lighthouse’s windows and electrical system. The $400,000 restoration lasted fourteen months and was funded by FEMA and MEMA. In March 2010, the lighthouse was reopened to the public. PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL develop tourist trade, however, and was the site of the famous Tegarden Hotel. Dr. William Tegarden of Kentucky arrived on the Mississippi Coast in the 1830s. He built a long pier out into the Gulf so that steamboats could dock there and unload tourists, and bathers could enjoy the waters from its platforms. It was at this hotel that Jefferson Davis recuperated after being wounded in the Mexican-American War (1846–48) and where he also pledged to build an Episcopalian church nearby. That promise became a reality when he commissioned the construction of St. Mark’s