Slidell begins where Lake Pontchartrain ends, where the lake forges triumphantly towards the Gulf of Mexico via a deepwater strait. At the Rigolets pass, you’re as likely to encounter tooling sailboats as toiling shrimpboats. The hinterland is striped with bayous, where canoe travel is more appropriate. If you’re into waterborne recreation—whether fishing, sailing, canoeing or waterskiing—there’s no question you’ll be into Slidell. But this is no remote getaway. Slidell stands just across the water from New Orleans, 20 minutes away. Culturally—and culinarily—there is little distinction between the two. Slidell is proud of its historic Olde Towne, with its excellent restaurants, antique shops and an ambience that recalls simpler times. On the other hand, Slidell also contains a top-notch regional shopping mall, North Shore Square. And Slidell may be one of the easiest places to access in Louisiana, at the junction of interstates 10, 12 and 59.
One of the earlier settlers to the area was John William Gause. Along with a younger brother, Wesley Coke Asbury Gause, Judge Wingate, and several others, they left Shallotte, North Carolina, on February 18, and arrived at Pearlington, Mississippi, on April 14, 1836. Wesley and his family decided to remain there, while John and family decided to cross the Pearl River, and built a log cabin on the west bank, just a little further south. He then began a lumber mill, in the fledgling town later to be known as Slidell. His traveling back and forth from lumber yard to home created a road, known today as Gause Boulevard, a major east/west street in the town. The lumber yard was located at the northwest area of where Gause Boulevard crosses the railroad track. The log cabin was built at the very east end of the road, just a few yards from the river. The house stood until the late 1990s, and a small family burial plot still remains, where John is buried between his two wives, Lydia Russ and Johanna Frederica VanHeemskerk.
Slidell was founded on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in 1882 and 1883 during construction of the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (N.O.N.E.). The N.O.N.E. line connected New Orleans to Meridian, Mississippi. The town was named in honor of American politician and Confederate ambassador to France John Slidell, father-in-law of real estate developer Baron Frederic Emile d'Erlanger and officially chartered by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1888.