History of Pascagoula


Pascagoula, the “Singing River” city beside the Gulf of Mexico, has a deep and rich history as a European settlement that goes back over 300 years. Her name is taken from a band of peaceful Native Americans (Pascagoula means “bread eaters”) who inhabited the area when Hernando De Soto first explored the Mississippi River area in the 1540’s.

Legend tells the story of two Native American tribes that believed to have once coexisted, the Biloxi and the Pascagoula. Chief Altama of Pascagoula and Princess Anola of Biloxi fell in love. Their union was forbidden, so the Biloxi planned to go to war with Pascagoula and take all of their people as slaves to the Biloxi. Tragically, Altama, Anola and the rest of the Pascagoula people joined hands as they walked into the river singing their death songs, rather than enslave themselves to their enemy, the fierce Biloxi. Thus, the legend of the “Singing River” was born. 

The native people were followed by Spanish, French and English settlers who later inhabited the coastal region.

Shipping & Maritime

Interestingly, because of her maritime success, Pascagoula is still a gathering place of nations as they come here to trade, build or buy ships. Pascagoula is the home of the state’s largest employer, Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding. Other major industries include Chevron's largest U.S. refinery, Signal International, Halter Marine, and Rolls Royce.


Learn more about the history of the City of Pascagoula by viewing our Historical Timeline (PDF).