Updated January 24, 2019.
This week’s installment of Mississippi Mondays is Ship Island – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_Island_(Mississippi), an island about 12 or so miles south of Gulfport and Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi. The Camille Cut caused by Hurricane Camille in 1969 should be repaired by mid-2020 if current projections hold true. You can learn more at https://www.sam.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Stories/Article/1400236/mobile-district-starts-first-phase-of-349-million-coastal-island-restoration-pr/.
Ship Island is normally accessed by boat and a local company takes tours out to the island: https://msshipisland.com/ although other charter boats may offer the same access. The link above offers tours from Biloxi and Gulfport to Ship Island with multiple visit passes available. The ferry only goes to West Ship Island although once the island is whole again, you would be able to walk the part that is now East Ship Island.
Round-Trip Ferry Routes:
- Gulfport → Ship Island
- Biloxi → Ship Island
Ferry Operation Seasons:
- Spring: March 16th – May 10th (Gulfport only)
- Summer: May 11th – August 18th
- Fall: August 21st – October 27th
Walk-up Ticket Prices at Boat Dock:
- Adult: $32
- Child: $22
- Senior: $30
- Military: $30
- Infant: $0 (2 and under)
If you book online, there is a $2 discount off any ticket price that isn’t free.
The big draw to Ship Island is Fort Massachusetts – https://www.nps.gov/guis/learn/historyculture/fort-massachusetts.htm or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Massachusetts_(Mississippi). You can walk around the fort and explore its nooks and crannies. At one time, there was a cemetery, https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2239268/ship-island-confederate-cemetery on the island, but it’s location would be about where the Camille Cut is located. The Find-A-Grave name ignores the larger number of Union burials in the cemetery. About 228 of the 380+ burials, Union and Confederate, were dug up and later re-buried in Chalmette National Cemetery (Louisiana): https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/67200/chalmette-national-cemetery. Due to lost headstones and other issues, it’s not known clearly which bodies were relocated to Louisiana.
You can learn more about Ship Island, Mississippi: Rosters and History of the Civil War Prison: https://www.amazon.com/Ship-Island-Mississippi-Rosters-History-ebook-dp-B00AB3IS5A/dp/B00AB3IS5A/ (not an affiliate link). I have the ebook if somebody needs a name looked up for who was originally buried there. The authors make it clear the records were in a mess so your ancestor could have been buried on Ship Island, but missed in their extensive search of available records. For what records they found, they included things like physical description when available. The book also includes a history of the island.
I only visited Ship Island once, back in the 1970s. I went alone, but heeded my sister’s advice to load up on sunscreen. I did swim a bit on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island which is a marked contrast to swimming on the Mississippi Sound side of the island.
There are plenty of pictures on the island and Fort Massachusetts. Also, here’s a site about the lighthouse history of Ship Island: http://lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=648.
You can view the island on Google Maps which has a number of photos as well: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ship+Islandfirstname.lastname@example.org,-88.9553494,9575m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x889c03144278277b:0x639ed7860e29c254!8m2!3d30.211137!4d-88.9641261.
I also included in this post: What Interesting, Unusual, Odd, Strange, or Other Events, Museums, Etc. Have You Visited Or Want to Visit?.