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Pascagoula, Mississippi
City of Pascagoula
The city's welcome sign as seen on U.S. Route 90
The city's welcome sign as seen on U.S. Route 90
Mississippi's Flagship City
"A Great Place to Live, Work & Play"
Location of Pascagoula, MS
Location of Pascagoula, MS
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Jackson
 • City 18.2 sq mi (47.2 km2)
 • Land 15.2 sq mi (39.3 km2)
 • Water 3.0 sq mi (7.9 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
 • City 22,392
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,543/sq mi (597/km2)
 • Urban
50,428 (US: 497th)
 • Metro
382,516 (US: 137th)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 228
FIPS code 28-55360
GNIS feature ID 0675480
Website City of Pascagoula

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 GulfportBiloxi–Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. The population was 26,200 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Jackson County.

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 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 Huntington Ingalls Industries. 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 (64 km) west of Pascagoula; and the Trent Lott International Airport, located within Jackson County.

The mayor of the city is Jim Blevins.


Early history

Gallica Biloxy map Pascagoula
Pascagoula bay, early 18th century French map.

The name Pascagoula, which means "bread eater", 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.

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 or killed by 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

Ingalls Shipbuilding
A view of a section of the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company showing various United States Navy ships under construction in Pascagoula

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 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. Pascagoula was incorporated as a village in 1892 and obtained city status in 1901. Today's downtown Pascagoula used to be the town of Scranton, Mississippi (incorporated in 1870) until the two towns merged in 1912.

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.

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 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 could have been set in any Southern town but the name Pascagoula easily rhymed with the word, hallelujah, which is heard frequently in the song.

This is also the spot where a little girl was found thrown into the Dog River on Dec. 5, 1982. The girl, thought to be between 18 months and two years old, has never been identified to this day. 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.

Hurricane Katrina

Houses leveled, gutted or flooded in Pascagoula by Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's 20-foot (6.1 m) storm surge devastated Pascagoula, much like Biloxi and Gulfport and the rest of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Katrina came ashore during the high tide of 6:12AM, 2.1 ft (0.64 m) more. 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. Additionally, TITANTubes (sometimes referred to as geotubes) were installed under the beach to serve as low profile dune cores to protect the evacuation route.

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 forty Mississippi libraries, flooding the Pascagoula Public Library, first floor, and causing mold in the building.

Point of interest

The United States post office in Pasagoula contains a mural, Legend of the Singing River, painted in 1939 by Lorin Thompson. Murals were produced from 1934 to 1943 in the United States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department. The mural was restored in the 1960s as the building became the Pasagoula Public Library. The building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the mural was placed in storage. In 2010, it was re-installed at the new Pascagoula post office on Jackson Avenue.


Pascagoula is located 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 km2), of which 15.2 square miles (39 km2) is land and 3.0 square miles (7.8 km2) (16.74%) is water.

Pascagoula, Mississippi (right edge) is east of Gautier and south of Moss Point, along the Gulf of Mexico.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 480
1880 418 −12.9%
1900 708
1910 3,379 377.3%
1920 6,082 80.0%
1930 4,339 −28.7%
1940 5,900 36.0%
1950 10,805 83.1%
1960 17,155 58.8%
1970 27,264 58.9%
1980 29,318 7.5%
1990 25,899 −11.7%
2000 26,200 1.2%
2010 22,392 −14.5%
Est. 2015 22,126 −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate
FEMA - 37546 - Pascagoula Art Depot has reopened in Mississippi
The Pascagoula Art Depot is a gallery for local artists.
Pascagoula's location in Mississippi (red dot in lower right corner)

As of the census 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 per square mile (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, 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 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.

According to census 2010 Pascagoula has highest percentage of Puerto Ricans in Mississippi. Puerto Ricans make up nearly 5% of the city.[1]

Twin city

In popular culture

In the 2004 film The Ladykillers, lead character Mrs. Munson mentions that her neighbor went down and bought a new stereo "at the Costco in Pascagoula".

Pascagoula appears in the video game Tom Clancy's EndWar as a possible battlefield. In the game, it became a key American oil refinery in 2016.

Pascagoula is the setting for Ray Stevens' novelty song "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" that reached #20 on Hot Country Singles (now Hot Country Songs) chart in 1984.

Pascagoula is referenced in Hart of Dixie Season 2 Episode 10 Blue Christmas.

Jimmy Buffett wrote and performs a song called "Pascagoula Run"

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