- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Tunica County was established in 1840, close to 300 years after Hernando de Soto traveled through the area. Named after the Tunica Native Americans, today Tunica is the third-largest gaming region in the United States, after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It is also a gateway to the Blues Visitor Center & Museum, housed in an 1895 railroad depot, which features a large display of guitars used by famous musicians. The county was established with a tiny population of 821, of whom 30 percent were enslaved. By 1860, the free population remained small—just 883 people—though the slave population had increased to 3,483.
Located in a delta, the county developed an agricultural economy based on cotton, livestock, and large-scale slavery. In the post-war period, Tunica’s population rose to 8,461, and 85 percent of residents were African Americans. Tunica County’s population almost doubled between 1880 and 1900, reaching 16,479. The vast majority of residents were African Americans, and most made their living in agriculture as tenants and sharecroppers. As in other areas dominated by tenancy, the farms were small, and the primary crop was cotton. By 1960, Tunica had experienced a sharp decline in employment opportunities and was one of the poorest counties in the U.S., and its population continued to decline in the 1970s and 1980s. Tunica has experienced some economic improvements since the 1990s, and casino gambling has provided some community benefits. In addition, improved roads, new government spending, and a new airport created opportunities for economic growth.