Great River


16 Mississippi Facts That Give Definition to This Ideal Destination

Most of us dig into the history of a place in order to better relate to where we are in the world, or where we’d like to be. We thought we’d help out with this one, because we honestly wanted to know: What makes Mississippi so special aside from the obvious? What gives it that je ne sais quoi that one can only feel in the aura of a place? Here are a few of the things we found.

  1. The state’s name derives from the Ojibwa tribe word “messipi” meaning “great river.”
  2. On a Mississippi hunting expedition in 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear, resulting in a political cartoon that inspired the first “teddy bear.”
  3. Mississippi became a state in 1817. The state capital of Jackson was named to honor General Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
  4. The Choctaw Indian Fair, held every July in Philadelphia, MS, includes demonstrations of stickball, arguably America’s oldest game.
  5. Natchez has more than 500 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
  6. Water-skiing was invented on Mississippi’s Lake Pepin in the 1920s.
  7. Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.
  8. The International Checkers Hall of Fame is in Petal, MS
  9. Natchez has more than 500 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
  10. Blues music was created by African-American artists in the Mississippi Delta region that stretches along the river from Vicksburg to Tunica.
  11. Mississippi has more churches per capita than any other state.
  12. Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, which hosts the annual Tupelo Elvis Festival (June 5-9, 2019). Other famous native Mississippians include Oprah Winfrey, playwright Tennessee Williams, authors William Faulkner and Eudora Welty, opera singer Leontyne Price, actor James Earl Jones, football star Walter Payton, puppeteer Jim Henson, and musicians Bo Diddley and B.B. King (among many, many others).
  13. In 1990, the Mississippi Legislature legalized “dockside” casino gambling, which means that all casinos in the coastal Biloxi-Gulfport and riverside Tunica areas are actually set on massive floating barges. At about $6.5 billion per year, the state ranks third in the nation behind Nevada and New Jersey in casino-industry revenue.
  14. Shoes weren’t always sold in left-right sets until 1884 when Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor in Vicksburg became the first store to sell them as pairs in boxes. Perhaps coincidentally, the nation’s first state college for women was established that very same year in Columbus, MS.
  15. Natchez has more than 500 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
  16. Nearly 2/3 of Mississippi’s total land area—about 19 million acres—is covered in forest.



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