Getting to Know Pearl River
The Pearl River, rolling through Mississippi and Louisiana, runs through swampland and has spawned some interesting folklore for locals and visitors alike. This river runs 444 miles with all kinds of wildlife nestled along its banks. Many towns are situated along the Pearl River, including four that were named after it: Pearl River, Pearl, and Pearlington, Mississippi, along with Pearl River, Louisiana.
Nature’s View of Pearl River
As the river turns and bends along its path, the swamps are filled with wildlife hidden by oak, cypress and sycamore trees while alligators wait for their prey along the banks or out in the water. Many areas along the river are isolated even though about one million people live along this route.
Pearl River begins in Neshoba County and continues until it reaches Pearlington. Red Bluff is located near the middle of the river, which is a clay bluff overlooking the river valley.
Take a canoe or kayak through the Pearl River, and you’ll notice many areas filled with the sounds of nature but silent when it comes to humans and their developments. In rural Neshoba County and neighboring Winston County, you will see sites that have sacred meanings to the Choctaw tribe who made their home among these lands. Burial mounds keep secrets of the past, especially Mother Mound, which stands 25 feet tall.
Nearby, the Chahta Immi Center tells the story of the Choctaw people with clothing, song and dance. Pottery and basketry showcase their skills and ability to utilize the fruits of the land. The baskets were made with local cane while clay formed the pottery pieces.
Commerce Along Pearl River
The capital of Mississippi, Jackson, sits along the upper portion of Pearl River. During the 1800s and early 1900s, the river enjoyed heavy commercial traffic. While it isn’t the same bustling area it once claimed to be, it’s still common to see boats and barges moving along on the water.
Swamp tours are also popular out on the river. With such diverse wildlife and numerous waterways, visitors are excited to see local flora and fauna in areas they would otherwise not have access to. Commercial fishermen still earn their living from the waters, especially where the river and Gulf intersect.
Progress has altered the Pearl River in recent decades, but a growing trend towards restoration gives locals hope that the Pearl River will return to its glory days someday. Environmentalists say that the dams have disrupted saltwater creatures that spawn in the freshwater of the river. Opponents say that dam control is necessary to prevent flooding. When Hurricane Katrina hit the area, it made landfall at Pearlington, all but wiping out the town. While it isn’t the same as before, the town is slowly making a recovery as the Pearl River remains as vibrant as ever.
The waters of Pearl River provide an interesting and varied backdrop to the towns that lie among its path. From Jackson, MS to Pearlington, this river offers beauty and history that cannot be replicated.