The Mississippi Pine Belt is a region in the southeastern part of Mississippi famous for a large number of pine trees that grow within the region. The area is also commonly referred to as the Piney Woods. The whole region is conducive to the longleaf pine because of its fertile soils and the temperature. The longleaf pine tree is a variety of pine which originates from the southeastern part of the United States. The tree can grow to a height of more 100 feet with a diameter of more than 29 inches. The trees can be found in several US states such as Texas and Florida. In Mississippi, they are commonly found in the 36 counties that make up the Pine Belt.
History of the Pine Belt
The Mississippi Pine Belt has been essential to human communities for a long time. Before the arrival of the Europeans in the region, native American communities such as the Natchez lived around the Mississippi Pine Belt, and they made use of the trees for a variety of purposes such as to provide firewood and construction materials. After the arrival of the Europeans in the region, the number of native Americans living around the pine belt decreased dramatically. When Mississippi officially became part of the United States, the number of people living around the pine belt increased. The increase in the number of people living around the pine belt led to a reduction in the number of trees within the area as they were cleared to make room for settlement and agriculture.
Towns Within the Pine Belt
Over the years, several towns have been established in the pine belt such as Hattiesburg, Bay Springs, and Brookhaven. Hattiesburg is a relatively young town as it was established towards the end of the 19th century. The city was named after Hattie, the wife of Captain William Hardy, the founder of the town. After the development of a railroad in 1884, the town became vital to the lumber industry based around the pine forests. Bay Springs was also established towards the end of the 19th century by Joe Blankenship who also established one of the first sawmills in the region. When the city was first established, the timber industry was the essential industry, and it was centered on the yellow pine tree. Georgia Pacific Corporation is one of the companies that handle timber production in the area. Laurel is another major town situated within the pine belt. At the time of the city's establishment, the lumber industry was its most essential industry, and it was centered on the region's pine trees. Other important industries in Laurel include the textile and agricultural industries.
Significance of the Pine Belt
The pine belt plays a significant economic role mainly because the trees are used in the lumber industry. The lumber industry has been vital to the development of several of the major towns in the region. The pine belt is also of great ecological significance because of the large variety of wildlife in the area such as the eastern grey squirrels and the white-tailed deer.