~ Hattiesburg, Mississippi ~
"US 49 through the crossroads of Southern Miss"
On a few occasions (most recently in 2008) my travels have brought me through the regional college town and hub city of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While avoiding the downtown area, US Route 49 serves as the primary commercial highway through the city. Through Hattiesburg, this route is lined with mini-malls, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and other businesses that are typically found alongside congested city boulevards. The most noteworthy sights, however, are the buildings that make up two massive complexes in the middle of the city: Forrest County General Hospital and the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. In fact, US 49 rolls right past some of the university’s red brick buildings and its large football stadium. The route also has a major interchange along Interstate 59.
"The infamous “bugs in the bathroom” experience"
It happened more than twenty years ago. I was a child, riding across country on a trip to Colorado with my parents and brother, when we rolled into Hattiesburg for the first time. We were stopping for what should have been a routine bathroom break at a gas station, but it went down in family history as the time we stumbled upon a contender for the world’s most disgusting bathroom due to the discovery of hundreds of large bugs. I think they may have been palmetto bugs, and they may as well have owned the place. The bathroom was completely overrun – walls, floor, and toilet seat. For years, that one disgusting pit stop unfairly defined our impression of Hattiesburg. Many years later, when I cruised through town again with my own wife, kids, and in-laws in tow, I did not have another run-in with the bugs (of course, we did not get out of the car either). Hopefully that old restroom is long gone now – but one can only wonder.
"Highways out of Hattiesburg"
Continuing northward from Hattiesburg, US 49 is a good highway, sliding through a few mild hills and an attractive landscape dotted with trees, farms, and small country towns. Magee, about 50 miles to the north, is the route’s most developed fast food and clean restroom town between Hattiesburg and Richland, a suburb of Jackson.
US Route 98 is another highway I’ve taken through Southeastern Mississippi, between Hattiesburg and Mobile, Alabama. While the road passes homes and subdivisions in Alabama, its Mississippi stretch is quite open and deserted -- except for a conspicuously placed, clean and modern Holiday Inn Express near Lucedale.