In southeast Mississippi, near the town of Merrell the Leaf River, that's the Leaf on the left, flows into the Chickasawhay River, on the right and forms the Pascagoula. The Pascagoula River flows southward from here for only a couple of counties before it fans out into the Gulf between Gautier and Pascagoula. But it is a diverse and in many ways, unique river between here and there.
It starts out like pretty much any other inland river with high banks in many places, and sandbars that wash in the current around the bends.
And farther south, the sand bars begin to fall away in places, and the banks of the Pascagoula are lost, way back there in trackless swamps.
On down, as the river begins to widen just before it empties into the sea, the trees give way to vast grassy marshes. This is what people traveling Interstate 10 see of the river, the marshes.
Now, so far, this could be any run of the mill river. So what is so wonderful about the Pascagoula that makes it a wonder? Well, mainly, it is the last free flowing river of its size in the continental United States. It has no dams or levees or impediments of any kind on its major tributaries. It ebbs and flows naturally as it always has. The last one like it.
But that's just one of its wonders. Along its banks farther south in the town of Pascagoula is the oldest standing structure in the Mississippi Valley. The Krebs House or Old Spanish Fort. Built less than 20 years after the French first colonized on the coast. By the way they were mechanically ginning cotton at the Krebs Plantation a quarter century before Ely Whitney invented the mechanical cotton gin.
And a little farther south at the base of the Highway 90 Bridge near the Pascagoula River, the town is relocating and rebuilding the Round Island lighthouse, tumbled by hurricanes Georges and Katrina out in the gulf.
But as wonderful as the old fort and the reconditioned lighthouse adjacent to the river are, the most remarkable attribute of the lower portion of the Pascagoula is, it sings. Used to, anyway. Enough so that the signs at the river on Highway 90 attest to that oddity. At one point in the past the river hummed so loudly on summer evenings that cars would stop along the highway and people listen. Lore says the singing are the voices of the lost Pascagoula Indian tribe who back in antiquity, joined hands and drowned themselves in the river rather than be captured into slavery.
Some say it still sings on quiet summer evenings if we'd stop and be quiet long enough to listen.
Well, I don't know if the Pascagoula still sings, but with all of its attributes, it rocks! And is one of the Wonders of Mississippi.
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