In the mid-1800's, the railroad began selling land in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Sawmills sprang up to process the extensive timber being cleared from the fertile land, and, slowly but surely, farms, roads, and towns began to appear. In 1884, a rail line connecting Memphis and New Orleans was completed with a "golden spike" being driven near the spot on Jones Bayou where people had settled. Situated almost exactly halfway between Memphis and the major port of Vicksburg, the small settlement was now connected to the outside world by dependable rail service. Dependence on the river waned, and fortunes were made selling timber. In 1884 the Jones Bayou settlement appeared in county records as Fontaine, Mississippi, though at various times it had also been known as Coleman or Coleman's Station in honor of its founder. In 1885, the name of the community had changed to Sims, the name of a major property owner. Finally chartered in 1886, the settlement at last adopted its present name of Cleveland in honor of President Grover Cleveland. Soon banks, dry goods stores, saloons, and hotels shared in the growth of the community. The Delta was still plagued with numerous hardships - malaria was a constant threat well into the 20th century - but as the swamps were drained and the land cleared, more and more settlers came in with the railroad, and Cleveland prospered. The early decades of the 20th century saw unimpeded progress and growth. When major fires burned whole sections of the town, they were rebuilt. By 1915, Italian immigrant farmers had arrived and began working fields west of town, a new Consolidated Agricultural High School had been built, a volunteer fire department was established, and the Bolivar Commercial newspaper had been published. With the exception of the school which has since grown to include multiple campuses, all the above are still a part of Cleveland today. In 1915, another pillar of the Cleveland community was established with the creation of Delta Teachers College. Over the decades the Teachers College has evolved into what is now Cleveland's most prominent landmark, Delta State University. Industries including Baxter Laboratories, Du-oFast Corporation and Tyson Corporation have made Cleveland their home. The new port of Rosedale has revitalized the old county seat on the western side of Bolivar County. The future truly looks bright for this county and the city of Cleveland as they progress through their second century of life in the heart of the Delta. (Cleveland CVB)

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