Pascagoula, Mississippi

Pascagoula, Mississippi

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Pascagoula, Mississippi
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 200px
image_caption = Pascagoula refinery skyline along U.S. Route 90



mapsize = 250x200px
map_caption = Location of Pascagoula, MS

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Mississippi
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Jackson
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title =
established_date =

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 47.2
area_land_km2 = 39.3
area_water_km2 = 7.9
area_total_sq_mi = 18.2
area_land_sq_mi = 15.2
area_water_sq_mi = 3.0

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 26200
population_density_km2 = 666.6
population_density_sq_mi = 1726.4

timezone = Central (CST)
utc_offset = -6
timezone_DST = CDT
utc_offset_DST = -5
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 3
elevation_ft = 10
latd = 30 |latm = 21 |lats = 49 |latNS = N
longd = 88 |longm = 32 |longs = 31 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 39500-39599
area_code = 228
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 28-55360
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0675480
website =
footnotes =

Pascagoula is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States. It is the principal city of the Pascagoula, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, as a part of the Gulfport–Biloxi–Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. The population was 26,200 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Jackson CountyGR|6.

Pascagoula is a major industrial city of Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast. Prior to World War II, the town was a sleepy fishing village of only about 5,000. The population exploded with the war-driven shipbuilding industry. Although the city's population seemed to peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s as Cold War defense spending was at its height, Pascagoula experienced some new growth and development in the years before Hurricane Katrina. Today, Pascagoula is home to the state’s largest employer, Ingalls Shipbuilding, owned by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems — "America’s Shipbuilder." Other major industries include one of the largest Chevron refineries in the country; Signal International, an oil platform builder; and Mississippi Phosphates.

Naval Station Pascagoula was located on Singing River Island and was homeport to several Navy warships as well as a large Coast Guard contingent. However, Naval Station Pascagoula was decommissioned as part of the 2005 BRAC recommendations and ceased operations in 2006.

The city is served by three airports: Mobile Regional Airport, which is located in nearby Mobile, Alabama; the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, about 40 miles west of Pascagoula; and the Trent Lott International Airport, located within Jackson County.

The mayor of the city is Matthew Avara.


Pascagoula is located at coor dms|30|21|49|N|88|32|31|W|city (30.363656, -88.542041)GR|1, along Mississippi Sound, at the mouth of the Pascagoula River.According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.2 square miles (47.2 km²), of which, 15.2 square miles (39.3 km²) of it is land and 3.0 square miles (7.9 km²) of it (16.74%) is water.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 26,200 people, 9,878 households, and 6,726 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,726.4 people per square mile (666.4/km²). There were 10,931 housing units at an average density of 720.3/sq mi (278.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.15% White, 28.97% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.67% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.89% of the population.

There were 9,878 households out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 101.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,042, and the median income for a family was $39,044. Males had a median income of $30,313 versus $22,594 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,891. About 18.1% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.


Native residents

The name "Pascagoula", which means "bread eaters," is taken from a group of Native Americans found in villages along the Pascagoula River some distance above its mouth. Hernando De Soto seems to have made first contact with them in the 1540s, though little is known of that encounter. Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, founder of the colony of Louisiana, left a more detailed account from an expedition of this region in 1700. The first detailed account comes from Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, younger brother of Iberville, whom the Pascagoula visited at Fort Maurepas in present-day Ocean Springs, shortly after it was settled and while the older brother was away in France. There are few details that are certain about these peoples, except that their language seemed not to have shared an etymological root with the larger native groups to the north, the Choctaw particularly. Instead, their language seems more akin to that of the Biloxi or Natchez people, both of whom have been linked in this way to the Sioux, Crow, and Ho-Chunk. The territory of the Biloxi peoples seems to have ranged from the areas of what are now called Biloxi Bay to Bayou La Batre (Alabama) and twenty-five miles up the Pascagoula River, and then the Pascagoula people's territory seems to have ranged between some distance north of there to the confluence of the Leaf and Chickasawhay rivers. [Cain, Cyril Edward: "Four Centuries on the Pascagoula", vol. 1, pages 19-21. 1953]

The first settlers of Pascagoula were Jean Baptiste Baudreau Dit Graveline, Joseph Simon De La Pointe and his aunt, the Madame Chaumont

Local legend says the Pascagoula tribe chanted and waded hand-in-hand into the Pascagoula River, drowning together rather than become enslaved to an enemy tribe, the Biloxi. Thus, the legend of the "Singing River" was born. It is said that on still summer and autumn evenings, the sad song of the Pascagoulas can still be heard near the river.

Modern History

Occupation of the region changed hands over the next century, being occupied variously by the English, French, and Spanish until well after the American Revolutionary War. It did not come into the permanent possession of the United States until in 1812, when it was added to the Mississippi Territory. At one point, for seventy-four days in 1810, Pascagoula was a part of what was known as The Republic of West Florida. [Ibid., 47-49]

Pascagoula has been home or host to many notable people, including the pirate Jean Lafitte; the infamous Copeland Gang; “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson; General (later President) Zachary Taylor; Confederate General and Congressman David Emanuel Twiggs; Union Admiral David Farragut; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who is said to have penned "The Building of a Ship" while in Pascagoula (although his stay is more local folklore than truth); and Nobel Laureate in literature William Faulkner who is believed to have written "Mosquitoes" while summering in Pascagoula. The world renowned rhythm and blues band The Nite Riders also got their start in Pascagoula in the 1950s. Many of the original members still perform together in local casinos.

Pascagoula gained notoriety on October 11, 1973 when two local fishermen, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, claimed to have been abducted by aliens from a Pascagoula pier. The media frenzy that followed touched off national interest in UFOs and extraterrestrials unparalleled since the Roswell incident. In 1983, Hickson wrote a book about his ordeal entitled "UFO Contact In Pascagoula."

Pascagoula also gained dubious national attention in the 1980s, when novelty singer/songwriter Ray Stevens featured the town in his hit, "Mississippi Squirrel Revival." Stevens admits, though, that the song may have been set in any Southern town.This is also the spot where a little girl was found thrown into the Dog River on Dec.5 1982, just three weeks before Christmas. The little girl thought to be between 18 months to two years old has never been identified, even to this day 25 years later.The unidentified toddler is buried in Jackson County Memorial Park. Deputy Moore and his wife stepped forward and made sure the little girl was given a proper funeral and burial in 1982. Approximately 200 people attended the young girl's funeral. [ [ WLOX TV 13 - The Station for South Mississippi - Local news, weather, sports, jobs, and entertainment - Gulfport, Biloxi, Pascagoula | Unidentified Baby Still Remembered After 25 Years ] ] [ [ Memorial participants hope to identify Baby Jane' ] ] [ [ National Center for Missing & Exploited Children ] ] [ [ The Picayune Item - 25 years later, ‘Baby Jane’ still a mystery ] ]

Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's 20-foot storm surge and 30-55 foot seawaves devastated Pascagoula," [ National Weather Service Forecast Office - Mobile/Pensacola] ." "NOAA." July 7, 2006.] much like Biloxi and Gulfport and the rest of the Mississippi Gulf Coast." [ Tropical Cyclone Report, Hurricane Katrina] ." (post-analysis) "National Hurricane Center." revised August 10, 2006.] Katrina came ashore during the high tide of 6:12AM, 2.1 ft more. ["2005 NOAA Tide Predictions: Pascagoula, Mississippi Sound" (2005), tide on 29-Aug-2006, "NOAA", web: [,+Mississippi+Sound&thh=%2b1&thm=20&tlh=%2b0&tlm=48&hh=*1.21&hl=*1.21 NOAA-tide-tables] .] Nearly 92% of Pascagoula was flooded. Most homes along Beach Boulevard were destroyed, and FEMA trailers are now an omnipresent sight. Due to the major media focus on the plight of New Orleans and Biloxi-Gulfport in the aftermath of Katrina, many Pascagoula citizens have expressed feeling neglected or even forgotten following the storm. Most Pascagoula residents did not possess flood insurance, and many were required to put their homes on pilings before being given a permit to rebuild.

United States Navy officials announced that two "Arleigh Burke"-class guided missile destroyers that were under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula had been damaged by the storm, as well as the Amphibious assault ship USS "Makin Island".

Hurricane Katrina damaged over 40 Mississippi libraries, flooding the Pascagoula Public Library, first floor, and causing mold in the building. ["Hurricane Katrina Related Damages to Public Libraries in Mississippi" (September 2005), Mississippi Library Commission, web: [ ALA-Katrina] .]


The City of Pascagoula is served by the Pascagoula School District.

Famous Residents

The city is the home of the Mississippi Squirrel Revival sung by Ray Stevens, former Republican Senator Trent Lott and former professional wrestler Uncle Elmer (Stan Frazier). It is the birthplace of well-known American singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett, the original "Parrott Head," and Christian recording star and comedian, David L Cook. Also originating from Pascagoula is recently-disbarred attorney Richard Scruggs, Wall Street Executive Paul G. Wilson, NFL players Jim Marcellas, Chuck Commiskey, Shane Matthews, Richard Harvey and Terrell Buckley, NBA forward Antonio Harvey, actor William Nakia Yelland and Major League Baseball player Harry "The Hat" Walker. Another famous resident was Ira B. Harkey Jr. editor and publisher of Pascagoula (Miss.) Chronicle who won the Pulitzer Prize for his courageous editorials devoted to the processes of law and reason during the integration crisis in Mississippi in 1962.


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