A brief history
The story of Clermont Harbor begins before recorded history, as indicated by pottery shards, arrow heads, and other evidence of prehistoric Indian occupation. Situated between two marshes, its forested lands reached down to the Mississippi Sound, ideal for fishing and hunting for early settlers.
Bienville passed this site in 1699 with chronicler Andre Penicaut, who clearly described in his journal a nearby waterway, now called Bayou Caddy. Not much is known about the area until 1837, when the U.S. Land Office at Jackson sold 571 acres for $1.25 per acre to Peter Chambliss and Charles Lacoste, of Natchez. In 1852, state geologist Benjamin Wailes commented in his log that there were “two or three widely separated huts” where he hitched a ride with one of the early settlers, Peter Ioor.
By 1898, “Clermont City” was platted, indicating that a village was in the making. Besides Ioor, some of the early owners bore names like Herrin, Lobrano, and Bordage.
After the turn of the 20th century, real growth began with the investments of the Gulf Coast Development Corporation and its president, Charles Hopkins. A new plat, dated 1911, was dedicated, creating the town’s present grid of streets. Besides the cutting of streets, some sidewalks were laid and the harbor was dug. Thus, the new name became “Clermont Harbor.” Also, a beautiful hotel with Greek Revival architecture was built, and hundreds of prospective owners were brought in by train from New Orleans to promote the sale of lots.
Clermont Harbor, it was hoped, was to become the “Riviera of New Orleans.”
While the village may never have developed to that anticipation, people did buy and build, and fell in love with the easy, slow life of the community. Eventually, there were two groceries, two restaurants and bars, two churches, an ice scream parlor, a commuter train, and much successful fishing and crabbing. The town did its civic duty during World War II by staffing a plane spotting tower built to resemble a lighthouse.
Over the years, Clermont survived several tests, beginning with the 1915 hurricane. In 1946, the hotel burned down. This event was followed by the hurricane of 1947, and then by Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969.
In August 2005, Katrina, a hurricane of immense strength and tidal surge, destroyed all but the raw land and the dear memories of the inhabitants of Clermont Harbor.