Monday, June 28, 2021

A Short Visit to Hattiesburg Mississippi

Having exhausted our list of places to go and things to see in Laurel Mississippi and environs, we decided to branch out.  Looking at a map I had noted that Hattiesburg was just about 35 minutes south of Laurel on I-55.  I’d done a little research…just in case we decided to expand our horizons, so off we went.

Given my attraction to railroading, of course I had to check out Hattiesburg’s old New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad Depot.  This impressive structure was designed in the Italian Renaissance style and it’s capped with a clay-tile roof.
Back in the day this depot’s 15,000 sq. ft. interior included a 4,000 sq. ft. waiting room.  The passenger loading platform…now significantly shortened…was almost 3 blocks long and it was covered by a 924 foot long canopy.  The station has been in Continuous use since it was built…today serving as the AMTRAK depot for the City of New Orleans route between Chicago Illinois and New Orleans Louisiana. 

Some claim that Hattiesburg…and especially the train station…are the birthplace of rock and roll.  The 1936 recordings by Blind Roosevelt Graves, his brother Uaroy and pianist Cooney Vaughn…aka the “Mississippi Jook Band”, were made at the depot. 

In 2000, the City of Hattiesburg purchased the depot from Norfolk Southern Railways and then initiated a 7 year, $10 million restoration and improvement project.  The restored depot was rededicated in the spring of 2007.  It now functions as an intermodal transportation center and a space for meetings, exhibitions and special events.

I was very pleased to find this fine old steam locomotive on display next to the Hattiesburg Depot.  This 78 ton locomotive, Bonhomie and Hattiesburg Southern #300, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925.  It hauled freight on the short line railroad between Hattiesburg and nearby Beaumont until 1961.  This locomotive was one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the USA.  Old #300’s use ceased with the passing of the master mechanic who had maintained it.

On display immediately behind #300 is Baggage Car #4531.  This former Pullman sleeping unit that was originally built in the 1920s, was converted by Southern Railway into its current baggage express configuration in 1963.

This little locomotive is a type that I haven’t encountered too often.  This is a Heisler Fireless 0-4-0.  It was originally built as Hercules Powder Company #35.  It served the Hattiesburg plant from 1946 until 1958. 

Fireless locomotives are charged with steam from an external source, in this case the factory or plant’s boilers.  While operating, fireless locomotives are much safer in a high risk environment…such as a munitions plant, fertilizer factory or refinery.  The downside is that they have limited range and need to be frequently re-charged.

Time for a beer break!  A little research revealed the presence of the Southern Prohibition Brewing Company near downtown Hattiesburg.  We had to check it out.  It’s great to see re-use of older structures that have been left behind by ‘progress’.

The inside of Southern Prohibition Brewing Company features a lounge style room with couches and some carpets.  We settled down in the main room with the bar and beer menu on the wall.  Another area was set aside for souvenir and other related products.

I’m not a beer aficionado…hence my light American lager behind that first flight of different SPB products.   I love some of the names that these local breweries come up with for their various brews.  The top flight includes a sample of my choice, followed by ‘Devil’s Harvest’, ‘Crowd Control 4X’, and ‘Space to Face’.  The second flight added in a ‘Suzy B Blonde Ale’ and a ‘Mexican Lager’.  

I was hoping that someone would try a ‘Sherbet Sherpa’, ‘Golden Spiral’ or a ‘Coconut Macchinto Three Pumps Banana’.  Check out the SPB's website at: Home | Southern Prohibition Brewing Company (

Southern Prohibition Brewery has a nice outdoor area as well.  It feature a play area for small children, tables with umbrellas and a couple of food trucks.  Great blended concept! 

This very eclectic shopping experience or happening was just about a block away from the brewery.  The ‘Lucky Rabbit’ is a hyped up…jazzed up edition of the all too common multi-vendor leased space selling just about anything that one can imagine to customers browsing through the various booths.  To its credit, the ‘Lucky Rabbit’ is different in that it’s overall appearance has been so wildly and interestingly formulated that even I…not a ‘browser’ or a shopper…had to wander its aisles. 

This is the sight that hits you as you walk through the Lucky Rabbit’s front door.  POW!  Right away the customer knows that this is not your everyday rental booth shopping destination…

Check out the following photos to pick up more of the bold and colorful flavor of this shopping attraction.

This is a big building… In addition to the main floor, there is a mezzanine and several nooks and crannies to explore.  I personally loved the old signage and the quirky nature of this place. 

I came across this Ronald McDonald personality occupying a bench at the back of the store.  A couple of ladies who were shopping together obligingly posed for this picture…but one closed her eyes as I took the photo.

Both the Southern Prohibition Brewery and the Lucky Rabbit are located in an area close to downtown Hattiesburg that has seen better times.  That ruin is right across the street from the Lucky Rabbit and the old Coca Cola Bottling Plant is about a block away.

This was the second location for the Hattiesburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which was founded in 1906.  It moved to this building in 1915 and continued to operate as a bottling plant until 1960.  Several other businesses have occupied the building over intervening years.

Hattiesburg is the county seat for Forrest County.  The city was founded in 1882 by William Hardy, a pioneer lumberman and civil engineer.  It is situated at the junction of the Leaf and Bouie Rivers.  Hardy named the city in the honor of his wife, Hattie.  Due to the several railroads which served the city as well as the fact that it was the center of Mississippi’s lumber industry, Hattiesburg is known as “The Hub City”.  The city has a population of about 46,000. 

Even though the city is about 75 miles inland, Hurricane Katrina hit it hard back in 2005.  About 10,000 structures in the area suffered major damage from the winds and rain.  About 80% of Hattiesburg’s roads were blocked by trees and power was out for about 2 weeks.  Twenty-four people in the area were killed by the storm.

I thought that I’d end with a little humor… Someone, probably from the Lucky Rabbit, set up this clear and accurate cut-out of Bernie Sanders, a former Presidential candidate and current Senator from Vermont.  This was how Bernie was dressed at the Biden Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C.  He was getting plenty of attention on this warm day from the shoppers and tourists…although Mississippi isn’t exactly Bernie country… It was a chuckle for sure!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. wow you guys were having a really good time! Hattiesburg sounds so German to me.. The steam locomotive reminds me of old timer, but requires extra care and lots of energy. Have a good day, Dave!

  2. We've only driven thru Hattiesburg but it looks like an interesting stop. The depot looks very nice and good that it is being utilized. I like to sample beers like that. The Lucky Rabbit pics almost made me dizzy. My girls would enjoy it but I would have to find me a bench in the shade.

  3. I liked the Lucky Rabbit, and would have spent hours there, especially after having sampled some beers! Great train photos, as well as the depot. Sorry the storm caused so much damage.

  4. This looked like a great road trip, Dave with lots to see and beverage and food stops as well. The RR depot sure presented some great photo opps. That visit to the Lucky Rabbit seemed much like our recent visit to the Deja Vu furniture store (and more) here in NH. with so many interesting and unusual things to see.