To best understand the history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast just look to New Orleans, a little over an hour to the southwest. Like its world-famous neighbor, the region that includes Biloxi was explored and settled by the French, long before the Puritans came calling up in Massachusetts. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that before there was a New Orleans, there was a Fort Maurepas, established on what is today the small, Biloxi-adjacent town of Ocean Springs. Construction at Fort Maurepas began in 1699; New Orleans wasn’t a thing until nearly 20 years later. As with New Orleans—and, of course, nearby Mobile, Alabama, which predates all of the above—there is a long and checkered history, involving the Spanish and the British and, much later, the Confederacy. (The summer home of Jefferson Davis is located in Biloxi.) Recent history in the region has been defined almost primarily by disaster—Hurricane Camille in 1969, Katrina in 2005, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.