On March 28, 1699, Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville and his party camped at Goose Point on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, near what would someday become Slidell. This is the first recorded European presence in the Slidell area. New Orleans was founded in 1718, when 300+ settlers arrive and begin the systematic clearing of land by the river. In the early 1700s, French trading posts and small settlements appeared along the north shore of the lake. These north shore trading posts were providing fresh meat and produce, traded from the local Acolapissa people, to help New Orleans survive those early fledgling years.
Slidell, Louisiana began to flourish around 1882 during the construction of a major new railroad from New Orleans to Meridian, Mississippi, connecting there with Cincinnati, Ohio, and eventually with New York, NY. The New Orleans and Northeastern (NONE) Railroad established a 70-acre construction site at first high ground north of Lake Pontchartrain that eventually grew into the city.
In 1888, the Louisiana State Legislature passed the resolution officially recognizing the Town of Slidell. The train station, originally named in 1883, would provide the name for the new town in 1888 – “Slidell.” Fritz Salmen came to area around this time, starting a small brick company. With the new railroad, the Salmen business grew into one of the largest companies in the South. Salmen Brothers Industries, based in Slidell, became an international business. Other businesses soon followed.
By 1910, a community initially called “Salmen Town” had grown just a mile or so from the Slidell Train Station. This was an industrial company town that grew to support the company and employees who worked the Salmen Brothers brickyards, lumber mills, shipbuilding yards, and Railroad Company. The company employed more than 800 local people by this time The Salmen Brothers “Commissary” [merchandise store] in St. Tammany Parish. Soon, lots of other businesses and industries were springing up across the area. The rail line from running from Slidell to Pearl River became an industrial hub in the early 1900s.
Growing industries and businesses fueled a growing economy and growing population. The women of Slidell realized the need for religion, social gatherings, and education in the community. The Ladies Aid Societies and Missionary Societies had fundraising events to raise funds for the building of churches and schools in the area. Civic improvements created a community where more and more families came to raise their children and enjoy the social offerings of this small community.
In October 1961, a historic announcement was made; the federal government had selected an area in Hancock County, Miss., to be the site of a static test facility for launch vehicles to be used in NASA’s Apollo lunar landing program. It was the largest construction project in the state of Mississippi and the second largest in the United States at that time. Soon, NASA’s manufacturing complex, The Michoud Assembly Facility, arrived in New Orleans East, and a large NASA Computer Complex was constructed in Slidell. Slidell provided the perfect location for people to live, work, and play. More than 15,000 NASA employees, along with their families, came to the area in the early 1960s. This population boost was enough for Slidell to become a city.
On August 29, 2005, one of the worse hurricanes in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, devastated Slidell. Many parts of the city experienced significant damage. In the aftermath, Slidell became home to 1000s of displaced families who had a total loss in New Orleans and places like Chalmette and other cities that lie on the outskirts of New Orleans.