Roughly thirteen miles off the shore of Ocean Springs, Mississippi lies the sunken Isle of Caprice. Just under five feet of water it’s now a shoal or sandbar. The lost island sat between Ship and Horn Islands and has a sprightly short-lived tale.
It was first named Dog Key and was purchased for $183.75 by Walter Henry Hunt. Native Americans warned about the “disappearing island.” Yet, Walter ignored their stories. He and two developers built a paradise resort. Because the island was out of federal jurisdiction, they offered drinking and gambling during the Prohibition Era. Alcohol supplies came from rum runners who circled the island. The link below has plenty of original photographs.
A Casino, Dance Hall, and beach recreation drew crowds. A swim marathon organized by the promoters drew even more. Guests were ferried out in droves for a fifty-cent fare which included a Barq’s Rootbeer.
The Island of Fun
The escape from the mainland’s Great Depression was soon to end. In 1931 a fire destroyed the resort, and the island disappeared before Walter could reopen it for the following season. For years, only a pipe sticking up from the surface marked the location. Walter had dug an Artesian Well, and water still flowed from it. Boaters would stop for a drink. See the picture above.
To this day, the island hasn’t resurfaced, yet his descendants continue to pay taxes on the property, hoping for oil discovery. You can read a thorough and exciting account of the island’s history at the link below.
The Disappearance of Caprice
Reportedly the island was charted, then uncharted. The first record of its appearance was on a map from 1847. By 1859 it disappeared but resurfaced roughly sixty years later. This unpredictable piece of land sunk due to the elements I shared on the blog post, “Horn Island,” link below.
Another source of ruin was the harvesting of sea oats along the beaches of Caprice. Those beautiful grasses that grow along ocean shorelines are edible, and tourists and industry exploited their beauty and usefulness. There’s no argument for the favorable taste, but they also serve a stabilizing purpose. Classified as a rhizome, underground tuber, the plant operates to trap wind-blown sand allowing sand dunes to form. This natural ecosystem helps protect against storm surges and high waves that cause coastal flooding and erosion.
Even still, an island can’t contend with the laws of nature, and storms sunk the island after 1931. Learning about modern-day dredging operations, I wonder if the island could have been saved had the sinking happened today. But I also ponder God’s hand in the demise back then. Still, our God is the Lord of all hope.
An interesting tale, isn’t it? After all this barrier reef island research, I’ve been thinking a lot about islands in the storm and comparing them to me. Sometimes I feel like that. especially when hearing of other friends’ trials. How much battering can I or those around me take? Will we sink?
Islands in the Storm
During impossible struggles or tragedies, we often feel alone. Whether surrounded by faithful, loving family and friends or not, despair leads to despondency. But like the roots of the sea oats digging deep, we, as believers in the savior, Jesus, burrow deep into the Lord. Burying ourselves in His Word, waiting, and trusting in His perfect mercy.
When I focus on who He is and what He promises, not so much on what he’s done in my life, He gives me strength to rise above. And even when the problems aren’t so looming, and for whatever reason, dark thoughts threaten to destroy, He is faithful. I can trust in His goodness, His timing, and His plans for a future and hope.
I picture God’s sovereignty much like the beautiful sea oats. Though the storms come, and the winds rage, those grasses hold purpose. Building those dunes of protection around my mind and heart, promising an unsinkable faith for my eternity. I see a small island with a sand mound in the middle, me, surrounded by swaying sea oats, God’s Word, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And when the hurricanes surge, though I am battered, I will not sink. And even in this crazy world, neither will you. Please, cling to Him.
Thanks for joining me on this weekly tour of barrier islands in the Gulf Coast. I’m so grateful for you. I sure appreciate your words of encouragement. As I finish this Restored Grace Week of Release, I’m praying for you, and wherever you are in life’s journey, I pray you will experience the height, depth, and width of God’s unending love.
Today’s the last day to enter the Book Box of Treasures giveaway. I’ll be compiling all the names for the drawing tomorrow. My favorite devotional book is included, so please click the links, and comment for another entry.