COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - Collins is a town whose founding was linked to the expansion of a historic railroad. This edition of 7 On the Road gave us a chance to learn more about the beginnings of the city.
If it hadn't been for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad, the City of Collins probably wouldn't be here.
“Yes, that's completely true. If the railroad had gone a few miles one way or the other, Collins wouldn't be there. That's absolutely true,” said Gwen Keys Hitt, author and amateur historian.
According to Hitt, the land that eventually would become Collins was once dense timberland.
“My understanding is they literally set the woods on fire to have enough space to put the depot, and my understanding was the depot was the first thing that was built and then the town built from the railroad forward,” said Hitt.
Like many Pine Belt towns, Collins was built on timber and railroads but it's always had a major connection with oil.
“Most of the oil goes through us, in this particular southeastern part of the United States. It goes through us and we have several pipelines here,” said Hitt.
The city was first incorporated as Williamsburg Depot but was later renamed for Fred Collins, a state senator from Meridian, who helped the young town get its post office.
“He never came here, to our knowledge,” said Hitt. “He may not have even known it was named after him, to tell you the truth. But, he was instrumental in helping to get the post office, so that's how it got to be named Collins.
Hitt sees a bright future for Collins, mainly because of the strength and resilience of its people.
“We’re sturdy, we have stamina and whatever the roadblock is, we either find a way over it or under it or around it,” said Hitt.