City of Many Names
Mississippi Gulf Coast Museum of Historical Photography
The name Long Beach didn’t appear until 1882. This area was first seen on a British map in 1774 listed as BEAR POINT. Perhaps the British may have named the little Indian village with its crystal clear stream and the occasional bear. The village had sprung up along the little bayou that is still fed today from a spring close to the city limits line of Long Beach and Gulfport north of the railroad close to Wright Avenue.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that long time Cat Island residents, Nicholas and Marianne Ladner chose this same great spot to build a home when moving to the mainland in their later years in 1788. They built a home with two large chimneys, one on each end. Years after their deaths and the loss of the home to fire, those chimneys remained and were good reference points for boaters and yet another name, CHIMNEY POINT, came into use for the area and is shown on the 1841 county map.
A popular coast pioneer, John J McCaughan, would also build a home in this same spot, site of the present day USM, which he named Rosalie. Mr. McCaughan also built a 1,000 foot pier over the water in front of his home and allowed schooners to drop off the village mail along with other needed supplies. Local folks would come to his home to retrieve their mail. Soon the village had a new name, ROSALIE, which was still in use when a coastal map was printed showing it in 1865.
When the railroad officially opened on the coast in 1870, a longtime resident, George Scott, who owned much property and a sawmill on present day Girard Ave, donated some land and built a small building to be used as a depot. Mail then came in by rail instead of schooner and another new name soon emerged, SCOTT’S STATION.
In the early 1880’s James and Woods Thomas moved to the area and opened a fruit tree nursery on the present St Thomas property. They were very industrious and by 1882, they platted the town and renamed it the 5th and final name, LONG BEACH, because of the long, sloping beaches of glistening white sand along the shoreline.
During all of those years, there was a small hand full of folks in Long Beach but they became very successful in growing crops here. By 1884, Long Beach residents, some of them brand new, were already shipping vegetables out by rail. People began to move here in larger numbers due to the convenience of the railroad. Many Italian farmers who had temporarily settled in the Louisiana sugar cane fields also moved over. It wasn’t long before Long Beach gained fame and notoriety as the Radish Capital of America due to the popularity of its radishes, the Long Reds. These radishes were so long that they looked like red carrots and were in such great demand up north that it wasn’t unusual to ship out in excess of 300 rail cars in a season. The sliced radishes were set out on the bar in beer parlors and eaten like nuts by those drinking beer.