A Brief History
In 1823, Elisha Lott, a Methodist Preacher, settled at what
was the first Crystal Springs, a site several miles west of the City today. The
original town was named after the bubbling springs found at the site and which
still flow today. It was also in 1823 that Copiah County was created. The
founding of Crystal Springs was followed by the construction of a church, a school,
a grist mill, a lumber mill, and several homes.
In 1855, citizens of Crystal Springs and Copiah County were
confronted by a major issue - whether or not to encourage the construction of a
railroad from New Orleans to Jackson. The answer was affirmative and the railroad
came in 1858. Citizens realized it would be to their advantage to be located
close to the railroad and began to move to the present site of the City of
Crystal Springs, located along the railroad and on the ridge that separates the
Pearl and the Mississippi rivers.
Crystal Springs developed into a major produce shipping
center in the United States, which led to its being known as the "Tomatopolis
of the World." The City continued to be a major produce center until after
World War II when the advent of trucking and the decline in produce farming
brought on a decline in produce shipping.
Chautauqua Park was created in the late 1800's or early
1900's by the Chautauqua Movement which was prominent at that time. The
Chautauqua Assembly attracted people from all over the United States. By 1916,
the park had eighty-eight cottages, encircling a tabernacle, a 40 room hotel,
restaurant, and grocery. There were ten trains that made daily stops in Crystal
Springs bringing visitors to the park.
The historical significance of the Chautauqua site is an
eminent feature. A primary theme of the development will be an architectural
style representative of the early 1900's. The reconstruction of original
buildings and structures will be used as a setting to tell the rich history of
the Chautauqua site and surrounding area, which was one of the predominant
agricultural communities in the United States.
The origin of Chautauqua dates back to pre-Colonial time in
eastern New York, where a small boy of the Iroquois Tribe was often seen
leading a blind man with a string tied around his waist. The translation of
this concept was "Chau-tau-qua." Dr. Bishop Vincent is credited with
adopting this term and establishing the first Chautauqua Assembly, which sought
to provide an educational institution for leading the intellectually and
The Crystal Springs Chautauqua Assembly was active from 1892
to 1917. Noteworthy scholars and evangelists frequently attended summer
meetings. In 1909, delegates from five cities convened at the Chautauqua site
to form the first Mississippi Conference of Parents and Teachers.