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The History of Slidell, LA

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The city of Slidell has shown remarkably rapid growth and development since its earliest years. Although Slidell's real beginning came with the railroad in 1881, scattered houses had already been built in the area as early as 1852. Robert's Landing allowed the Spanish, French, and American homesteaders to travel by boat along Bayou Bonfouca to Lake Pontchartrain.
The growing city of New Orleans soon needed overland transportation to the north and east, so the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad came to build railroad tracks through the present site of Slidell and continuing to Jackson, Mississippi. The first survey team came in 1881, and during the following years railroad workers lived in the area and contributed to the local economy. The first train trip along the finished railroad took place on October 15, 1883.
In 1883 the town was surveyed and mapped by the railroad surveyors and named Slidell Station in honor of John Slidell, a U.S. senator and Confederate official. Slidell's post office and its telephone and telegraph lines came in 1884. Two years later Fritz Salmen started a successful brick-making company that helped the town develop.
The Town of Slidell was incorporated on November 13, 1888. The original town limits enclosed about 2,320 acres of land and were shaped like a reversed L. The first council meeting concerned the construction of a jail, which was built together with a mayor's office in 1889.
Slidell's first public school taught six grades and met in the Knights of Pythis Hall, which was divided by a curtain into two classrooms. The school later moved to four-room wooden building and added high-school courses; the first class graduated in 1909 and had four students. In 1911 the school had over 300 students and moved to a new three-story building. In 1924 Slidell's first separate high school was built on Third Street.
In the 1960's Slidell was one of the country's fastest growing cities, more than doubling its population from 14,000 to 30,000. This extraordinary growth was caused by NASA's Slidell Computer Complex, built in 1962 to support the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly Center in New Orleans. This center brought new residents to the city, and businesses were created to serve the increasing population. This created a growth cycle which is still continuing today; Slidell has become the largest city of St. Tammany Parish.