Have you ever peered out at the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico from the top of a lighthouse? Or felt the cool, damp air on your skin while walking through a coastal fort? Perhaps you’ve sailed on a schooner? The Gulf coast is full of opportunities to explore our maritime history and imagine what things must have been like long ago. And, learning about the maritime history of the Gulf of Mexico isn’t just about looking at the past, it’s about celebrating all the Gulf gives to us: seafood, jobs, a sense of place, and our culture.
See the light.
The coast is home to more than 45 lighthouses, beacons that were integral to keeping sailors and fishermen safe while guiding them home. They remind us how important these waters are to our daily life, from seafood to shipping. Take a tour of the Biloxi Lighthouse (Biloxi) or Round Island Lighthouse (Pascagoula) and imagine what it must have been like to haul fuel up and down narrow staircases several times a day.
Protection is key.
The Gulf of Mexico’s coastline and ports have long played an important role in trade and defense, and that is evident in the number of forts that were built along its shores. Many structures, including Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, were built after the War of 1812 as part of a new national system of coastal fortifications called the Third System of Forts. You can still visit 14 of these brick and stone buildings across the Gulf coast today.
A day at the museum.
For hundreds of years, people along the Gulf Coast have crafted boats that match their needs and local conditions. Biloxi schooners sailed between Mobile and New Orleans, transporting timber and oysters. Luggers were used to harvest seafood. Skiffs and flats boats, such as Stauter boats in Alabama and Lafitte skiffs in Louisiana, were popular for fishing, duck hunting, and recreation. Learn more about these boats and how they were used at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi.
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Featured on page 134 in the October edition of South Mississippi Living Magazine: https://redstardigital.net/lib/smliving/current/#p=134