Page 13: The importance of the Old Spanish Trail

Page 13: The importance of the Old Spanish Trail

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - From Florida across Alabama, Mississippi, and into Louisiana, early explorers established what is now America. Through time, people traveled by boat, horse, rails and then by automobiles.

A new book details what became known as the Old Spanish Trail. In the book, author Dan Ellis uses vintage photographs, maps, and stories to give readers a look at a historic route that spans across the gulf coast region and beyond.

In 1915, a group of historians and community and business leaders met to establish an important corridor.

"At first their thoughts were to build a road from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans," said Ellis. "It expanded when they came up with the idea to create a road from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego. They came up with the name Old Spanish Trail."

That was critical as automobiles changed the world of transportation and roads and bridges were built to take people along the Gulf Coast.

Towns and cities grew and visitors had easier access to our spectacular hotels and downtown areas. Ellis has led an effort to recognize the importance of the Old Spanish Trail, especially in Pass Christian where 21 banners hang along the scenic drive.

He has also placed historical markers at key locations, like at the corner of St. Paul and Scenic, which follows the original path of the trail. "On this historical marker are photographs, with copy describing something that was at one time on this site," said Ellis.

Today, the Pass Christian Historical Society sits on this spot. Another marker is in front of Our Lady of Guadeloupe Chapel, next to the site of the old St. Paul Catholic Church that was destroyed by Katrina.

Ellis' goal is to create a walking district in the Pass where people can learn about this historic city.

He has written 33 books, all dedicated to remembering the past and celebrating our rich culture.

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