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Friends who have a summer house in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, had urged us not to miss this pretty and friendly seaside town of 18,000 inhabitants, which lies roughly midway between Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans. The region was originally surveyed by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville in 1699 and later settled by a mixture of European immigrants before Mississippi became a state in 1817. Tourism took off in 1853 when Dr. William G. Austin of New Orleans built a hotel specializing in hydrotherapy cures in the mineral springs at Fort Bayou. And a steamboat line soon began transporting passengers to Ocean Springs from the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.