The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad was the catalyst for Slidell’s growth in the late 1800s. Surrounded by miles of water, there was no easy way to transport goods from the area. Frederick Erlanger, one of the city’s founders, was head of the banking syndicate, which financed the railroad. Erlanger named the town after his father-in-law, John Slidell, who was a prominent state, national and confederate political figure. As Slidell developed into a major transportation center, other industries flourished. A “creosote” plant, one of the country’s largest brick manufacturing facilities, a lumber mill and shipyard were built. The shipyard contributed significantly to ship, tank and airplane construction during World War II.
Today, Slidell is strategically located at the intersection of three major interstate highways with easy access to the Stennis Space Center, Lockheed Martin Manned Space Systems, the excitement of New Orleans and the beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Despite the surging economy, Slidell maintains a relaxing way of life. Olde Town is draped in live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and is home to numerous annual events such as the Antique Festival. Favorite local pastimes include square dancing, growing prize-winning camellias, softball, crawfish and BBQ cook-offs, firework displays and Mardi Gras parades. Slidell also attracts marine lovers to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and its many beautiful marinas.
Slidell is a paradise for wildlife and boasts several area wildlife refuges such as Fort Pike State Commemorative Area, Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge and Chevron Boardwalk at the White Kitchen Preserve. Swamp tours of Honey Island Swamp and Pearl River Swamp are perfect opportunities to glimpse elusive alligators and other forms of wildlife.
Golfers enjoy three lovely manicured public or semi-private courses: Oak Harbor Golf Club, Pinewood Country Club and the Royal Golf Club. Of course, Slidell is also rich in cultural opportunities. Residents are treated to the sounds of the Community Concert Band, Community Chorus, the annual three-day jazz festival presented by YMBC Jazz Festival Enterprises in Fritchie Park, St. Tammany Jazz Club, and the sights of the Slidell Dance Theater and the Slidell Little Theatre. The annual Mardi Gras parades attract so many visitors that you can almost hear the zydeco music wafting above the broad canopies of live oaks, magnolias and grand cypress trees.
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