The original settlement of Amite was born on the banks of the Tangipahoa River, adjacent to a Choctaw Indian village. Legend has it that the site was chosen when the Choctaw Chief Jean Baptiste welcomed the earliest settlers. Baptiste was the last Choctaw Chief in the region. In Choctaw, Amite means "red ant" signifying "thrift". In French, Amite means "friendship". The Town of Amite City is located at the heart of Tangipahoa Parish with the tranquil Tangipahoa River running north to south, parallel to I-55 and Hwy. 51 and is a "Sportsman's Paradise." Mild weather conditions are ideal for yearlong outdoor recreation such as canoeing, kayaking, and camping. Port Manchac, located 30 miles south of Amite on Lake Ponchatrain, offers shallow water port facilities. Our parish has been described as a mini replica of the entire state because of its diverse terrain from rolling hills to wetlands, dairy farmers to alligators, agriculture to industry. Amite is also home to the Amite Oyster Festival and the Tangipahoa Parish Fair.
Portions of present day Amite were entered as early as 1813. In 1852 the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Southern Railroad was chartered in both Louisiana and Mississippi. Two years later, the railroad ran from New Orleans to the Mississippi state line, just 30 miles north of Amite. Once known as the Amite Crossing, the Amite Station Railroad Depot remains a strong icon of what established the town. Due to the railroad, the town became a major commercial center for a larger region and a popular resort town in the mid-1850s. Many prosperous New Orleans residents found country retreats in the natural beauty of the scenic country sides. Several antebellum homes still charm the area.
In 1861, Amite City was incorporated, only months after the secession of Louisiana from the Union. During the Civil War, Amite served as an important gathering place for Confederate officials involved in the supply and support of Camp Moore. Camp Moore, located just 10 miles north, was the largest Confederate training base in Louisiana. In 1864, the railroad was burned and destroyed from the depot to Camp Moore by Union infantry. After the war, Amite City served as the base for the Union troops occupying the region during Reconstruction.
Amite was chosen as the parish seat when Tangipahoa Parish was established in 1869. Also in 1869 the Gullet Gin Company became the largest producer of cotton gins in the south, employing 250 people by the early 20th century. Before closing in 1963, the plant converted to war industry production for the World War II effort, manufacturing 150mm shells. In 1947 the Ponder Hotel was established across from the railroad and became a major "hot spot" for residents and visitors alike. Their famous rooftop dances were the social event of the season.
Amite is ideally located offering citizens the amenities of a large city while enjoying the small town atmosphere and charm. Because of the central location of Amite, it is a great home base to experience multiple day trips. You can begin with breakfast at one of Amite's finest restaurants and take a ride down one of our many scenic country roads, head 70 miles south to the New Orleans area, or discover Baton Rouge which is only an hour away. For the beach lovers, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is approximately 1 ½ hours away. Our low crime rate, good schools, parks, and neighborhoods are also an appealing asset for this warm and friendly town.
Today, Amite continues to build downtown with the support of the Town of Amite and the Chamber of Commerce. The city is supported by hard working men and women who love their town and are dedicated to seeing it excel. Expansion, encompassing new industry, upgrading city services, and entertaining new innovative ideas, while continuing the grassroots traditions makes for a strong force in the economic well-being of the Town of Amite City.