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Hattiesburg, Mississippi is located at the fork of the Leaf and Boule rivers, and primarily in Forrest County, where it is the seat of county government, but a portion of the city extends into Lamar County. The city was founded in 1882 by William H. Hardy, and named for his wife, Hattie. Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884. The area was first inhabited by the Choctaws, and was under the jurisdiction of the British West Florida Colony between 1763 and 1783, when it became part of the United States of America, which removed the native Choctaws from the region in 1805. The community was known as Twin Forks and Gordonville before receiving its current name. The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad came to Hattiesburg in 1884, and the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad came through in 1897, both contributing greatly to the economy of the city, particularly the G&SIRR which gave the state a deep water harbor and made Hattiesburg a railroad center. Besides being at the intersection of two railroads, Hattiesburg later became the intersection of US Highway 49, US Highway 98, and US Highway 59, which later became an interstate highway. The city is less than a hundred miles from Jackson, Mississippi, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. Hattiesburg is also the home of Camp Shelby, now a military mobilization center, two major hospitals, and two colleges. The Hattiesburg Zoo, at Kemper Park, has long been a tourist attraction for the city. Suburbs and neighboring communities include Arnold Line, Barrontown, Carterville, Dragon, Oak Grove, Petal, Rawls Springs, Sunrise, Varnado, and West Hattiesburg. Jackson, Mississippi is about ninety miles to the northwest, Meridian, Mississippi is about ninety miles to the northeast, and Slidell, Louisiana is about eighty miles southwest of Hattiesburg.

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