Page 35 - Hancock County Tourism ~ 2021 History
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Do you know about...
the Honey Island Swamp
Teeming with life, legend, and lore, the Honey Island Swamp is
a great, marshy divide separating southern Louisiana and Mississippi along the Pearl River. Its rich history and mystery are hidden in an expanse nearly 20 miles long and 7 miles wide. Over half of its 70,000 acres is part of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, gradually turning from swamp marsh at the lower boundary to hardwood bottomland to the north.
The Honey Island Swamp is fed by the
Pearl River and is one of the United States’ most pristine and natural river swamps, abounding
with migratory birds, alligators, nutria, turtles, black bears, cougars, feral hogs, snakes, raccoons, and cypress trees. It gets its name from the swarms of honeybees that once flourished there.
Although it belongs to Louisiana, the swamp has harbored many an outlaw from Louisiana and Mississippi who have slipped into its dense underbrush in an effort to elude the authorities.
Honey Island Swamp (Photo/Paul Mannix)
 Early Native Americans once made their homes here, and pirates and thieves set up hideouts and skillfully navigated secret watery passageways to rob unsuspecting travelers. One such criminal element in the 1800s was a particularly dangerous gang led by Pierre Rameau, the King of Honey Island.
Rameau was born
in Scotland as Kirk McCullogh. Despite being raised in a good family, he decided piracy was a quick way to get rich, and to that end, he and his followers looted, robbed, and viciously murdered
their victims, using the Honey Island Swamp
to their advantage. He became quite wealthy, and lived among high society in a fine home
in New Orleans under the assumed identity of Col. Phillip Loring, mine owner from Mexico.
He stored much of his treasure up the Pearl River in Gainesville. Rameau also served
as a spy for the British during the Battle of New Orleans, during which he ultimately died.
The swamp was home to another legendary figure in the 1960s, when claims that a giant ape-
like creature with strange yellow eyes and thin gray hair was inhabiting the area. The Honey Island Swamp Monster has never been caught, but for a time, the legend lived on.
Today the Honey Island Swamp is treasured by naturalists and hunters, as well as guided tour operators who give visitors an up-close
look at this incredible and diverse ecosystem. Its beauty is on full display, but its mysteries will remain shrouded, absorbed forever into its swampy sponge.

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