Of all my travels to St. Tammany Parish, one place I had never heard of was Pearl River. Yes, this is a body of water and a town. A Covington local mentioned that the Town of Pearl River is a hidden gem. He had me at “hidden,” so off I went to see for myself.
The Pearl River Museum and Research Center is the perfect starting point to learn more about the waterway and the town. Fortunately, I visited on a Saturday (the only day the center is open). Legend has it that brother explorers Iberville and Bienville named the river due to pearls being found at the mouth. The town’s beginning dates back to the late 19th century, however it didn’t become an “official” town until 1964. Afterward, I wanted to see the community’s landmark, the Old Green Church. While the building hasn’t held services there for decades, the church is well-known throughout the surrounding area.
The residents of Pearl River are a treasure. As I meandered through the town, I was met with friendly waves and conversation. When I stopped a couple to ask for directions, I ended up with an invitation to join them for lunch at a restaurant they claimed had the best fried chicken in a 50-mile radius. Suffice it to say the people of Pearl River do not exaggerate. When you plan your trip to Pearl River, make sure Wishbones is on the itinerary!
That afternoon, it was time to enjoy some outdoor recreation. Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most undisturbed wild swamplands in the country. The Refuge encompasses 36,500 acres of the Pearl River Basin, most of which is accessible only by boat. Needless to say, I didn’t go very far in! While it provides a very scenic setting, it is very remote, so I recommend you always have a companion with you.
As I headed back to my hotel, I thought about the incredible day. The town of Pearl River is much more than just a stop along the water. It is another true gem of St. Tammany Parish.