Historically, the Piney Woods of southern Mississippi was a region characterized by its impressive stands of native longleaf pine forest. However, extensive logging practices in the early twentieth century contributed to the clear-cutting of nearly all old-growth longleaf pine trees.
In the early lumbering days before the railroads, logs were cut and rafted down rivers and waterways from the inland Piney Woods to mills and ports along the Gulf Coast. With the advent of the railroad in 1885, commercial logging continued full speed ahead as Piney Woods timber was aggressively harvested, and railroad spurs and logging camps canvassed the region. A product of the timber boom, the town of Barth, Mississippi was incorporated in 1917 and already in decline by the late 1920s.
Most sawmills in the area were forced to close in the 1930s due to the widespread clear-cutting of the native virgin yellow pines. Today, large swaths of the Piney Woods are part of DeSoto National Forest. You can learn more about early logging practices by listening to the “Timber Industry” podcast.