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Crystal Springs

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CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI

A Brief History

 

In 1823, Elisha Lott, a Methodist Preacher, settled at what was the first Crystal Springs, a site several miles west of the City today. The original town was named after the bubbling springs found at the site and which still flow today. It was also in 1823 that Copiah County was created. The founding of Crystal Springs was followed by the construction of a church, a school, a grist mill, a lumber mill, and several homes.

 

In 1855, citizens of Crystal Springs and Copiah County were confronted by a major issue - whether or not to encourage the construction of a railroad from New Orleans to Jackson. The answer was affirmative and the railroad came in 1858. Citizens realized it would be to their advantage to be located close to the railroad and began to move to the present site of the City of Crystal Springs, located along the railroad and on the ridge that separates the Pearl and the Mississippi rivers.

 

Crystal Springs developed into a major produce shipping center in the United States, which led to its being known as the "Tomatopolis of the World." The City continued to be a major produce center until after World War II when the advent of trucking and the decline in produce farming brought on a decline in produce shipping.

 

Chautauqua Park was created in the late 1800's or early 1900's by the Chautauqua Movement which was prominent at that time. The Chautauqua Assembly attracted people from all over the United States. By 1916, the park had eighty-eight cottages, encircling a tabernacle, a 40 room hotel, restaurant, and grocery. There were ten trains that made daily stops in Crystal Springs bringing visitors to the park.

 

The historical significance of the Chautauqua site is an eminent feature. A primary theme of the development will be an architectural style representative of the early 1900's. The reconstruction of original buildings and structures will be used as a setting to tell the rich history of the Chautauqua site and surrounding area, which was one of the predominant agricultural communities in the United States.

 

The origin of Chautauqua dates back to pre-Colonial time in eastern New York, where a small boy of the Iroquois Tribe was often seen leading a blind man with a string tied around his waist. The translation of this concept was "Chau-tau-qua." Dr. Bishop Vincent is credited with adopting this term and establishing the first Chautauqua Assembly, which sought to provide an educational institution for leading the intellectually and spiritually blind.

 

The Crystal Springs Chautauqua Assembly was active from 1892 to 1917. Noteworthy scholars and evangelists frequently attended summer meetings. In 1909, delegates from five cities convened at the Chautauqua site to form the first Mississippi Conference of Parents and Teachers.

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