There's so much history buried beneath the city of Biloxi. Artifacts unearthed near the famous Biloxi lighthouse have forced the Department of Archives and History to temporarily halt construction of the city's new visitor's center. (Read our previous report on the project.)
Steve McCluskey's crew dug up even more history just a foot below Howard Avenue.
McCluskey is with Lane Construction. And his company is rebuilding the two lane, east/west road that runs from downtown Biloxi to Point Cadet. Once upon a time, trolleys ran down that road.
How do we know that? Because McCluskey's team is digging up the final 1,500 feet of tracks.
"Just imagine who all was using it to ride down that track," McCluskey pondered as he drove me to the staging area where his crew was storing the rusty rails. "My great granddaddy was just a kid."
The old downtown library used to have pictures of that trolley system. It sure looked like Howard Avenue was a bustling back then. But times changed, and the trolleys became obsolete.
It seemed a bit odd to both of us that when Biloxi replaced the rails with cars, it left the tracks in place. We figured pouring a road over the trolley line was more cost effective than getting rid of the tracks.
Below the tracks were old pipes that still carried water and sewer through east Biloxi.
"It just amazes me what the old guys did," McCluskey marvelled.
They didn't have computers to help engineer a water and sewer system. And they didn't have state of the art equipment to build and connect the pipes.
"They done a good job because it's still working today," McCluskey noted. "It's still moving water with no computers and all that kind of stuff."
New pipes will replace the aging system. And they'll move water through the Howard Avenue area more efficiently.
McCluskey's crew expects to be done with the Howard Avenue project by April 30. He'll leave that construction site with a souvenir. Somebody unearthed an old, rusty mule's shoe and gave it to McCluskey.
The man who's building one of Biloxi's roadways to the future is going to keep it to remember a past that so many of us have forgotten.
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