Chainsaw Artist Salvages Live Oak Trees in Biloxi, MS

One of the great joys of traveling in the American south is experiencing those massive live oak trees that sprawl lazily across spacious lawns, parks and basically any place they choose. Think of the tree that Forrest and Jenny played in in the movie Forrest Gump. Live oak trees were the real stars of that movie. No Hollywood set designer could come up with something that magnificent. Live oak trees come straight from the hands of God.

Live Oak Tree from Forrest Gump movie

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Live Oak Trees on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast

So you can imagine the pain of many residents along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast when they returned in last days of August 2005. Hurricane Katrina had taken their homes, their businesses and their communities. And she took those trees, those magnificent gnarly old trees. Homes and businesses can be rebuilt. It takes centuries to grow a proper live oak tree.

Live Oak Trees, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, turned into wooden sculpture park.As the clean-up began and chainsaws cut through mountains of debris, one chainsaw-wielding volunteer created something of beauty amidst all of the destruction.

His name was Dayton Scroggins. He took the remains of six old trees. They had drowned in the 25-foot surge of the Gulf’s salty waters. Their limbs had been torn from their bodies by 200 mph winds. Dayton Scroggins made something beautiful of the destruction.

It’s now the Katrina Sculpture Park, located in the median of Highway 90 that travels through Biloxi. There are now dozens of chainsaw sculptures found along the Mississippi coast, too many to count, but they all pay tribute to the beauty of life in the Gulf. Pelicans and dolphins, sea horses and sea turtles, and lots of fish, big and small.

a pelican carved out of live oak tree on Mississippi's Gulf Coast“It was the first thing that gave me hope, that life here would be beautiful again,” says Katherine Blessing, whose home just a few blocks away was severely damaged. “It still gives me so much peace and reassurance today.”

And indeed, all of us who visit the Gulf Coast today.

Katrina Sculpture Park, Biloxi Mississippi

The Biloxi Lighthouse on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Biloxi Mississippi LighthouseWhile you are driving the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you’ll come across a lighthouse that also survived Hurricane Katrina and lots of big blows before her. The lighthouse sits right out in the middle of Highway 90. If you miss it, you need to have your vision checked.

It’s been there since 1848. It has always had female light keepers. Today, hey are employees of the Biloxi visitors center, where you buy tickets to climb to the top. It’s not super tall as lighthouses go — only 57 steps. So you can say you climbed a lighthouse, without breaking a sweat.

Just another something fun to do on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

Enjoy the Mississippi Gulf Coast