2014 Trip Two, March 11, Deep South

Tuesday, March 11 St. Francisville, LA

Well, we are not in Minnesota anymore. Short sleeve shirts, humidity, my first mosquito, and flowers. The joys of staying at Bed and Breakfasts pales a bit when once again you are on floor 2 or 3 and there is no elevator. I asked Chris “Now when do we sleep in a regular hotel again???”

Today began in Vicksburg MS as we toured the Lower Mississippi River Museum. I found it not quite as exciting as hoped for given the number of museums we have been to. Part of the exhibit discusses the history and role of the Corps of Engineers-which is not new to us. Part of the exhibit talks about the ecology and species of the Lower Mississippi. Only a small portion discusses the floods and development along the Mississippi which interests me the most.

MV Mississippi IV at Lower Mississippi River Museum

MV Mississippi IV at Lower Mississippi River Museum

The flood of 1927 (which we read about when visiting the Herbert Hoover Museum in Iowa) was featured. This devastating flood lasted for months, resulting in large-scale evacuations. It is said that the flood accentuated the movement of blacks from the South to northern cities to find work. Hoover was the head of the Commerce Department and was instrumental in providing relief efforts. However, discrimination and inequity in relief camps were covered up at Hoover’s request,leading to his loss of the black vote in his presidential campaign.

The 1927 flood led to further powers given to the Corps of Engineers to improve flood control. Decades of levee building and river channel changes have followed. The Corps of Engineers eliminated many horseshoe bends in the Mississippi, speeding up river flow and shortening the length of the river by over 150 miles.

Ed inside the MV Mississippi. This time I did not destroy anything.

Ed inside the MV Mississippi. This time I did not destroy anything.

A river ship retired from service is located next to the museum. The MV Mississippi IV. This vessel served as a work horse tug for the Corps, delivering equipment and materials to Corps projects up and down the river.

Our lunch was at the Old Country Store in Lorman, MS, a true gem. The two couples at the Duff Green Mansion had mentioned it to us. We were not really hungry to we only had cobbler instead of the chicken buffet. Mr. D, the owner, was quite the character. He opened the restaurant after retiring from a Florida utility company. The restaurant gives him full rein to express his outgoing personality, singing, and to showcase his fried chicken recipe.

Rosedown Plantation house

Rosedown Plantation house

Now we are over the LA-MS border in St. Francisville. This is another small town featured in National Geographic’s Best Small Town book. We spent an hour and a half touring the Rosedown Plantation. Even though one can not agree with the slavery aspect of plantation life, it is part of our history so we believe visiting a limited number adds to our understanding of life in the Deep South.

Front entry at Rosedown

Front entry at Rosedown

This plantation had 250 slaves and 3500 acres. The owner and his wife owned a total of four plantations. After the Civil War, some of the former slaves continued working the land as sharecroppers until the boll weevil devastated cotton crops in the U.S. It was not until recently that efforts have been successful in eradicating the insect in much of the U.S.

Part of the grounds for Rosewood

Part of the grounds for Rosewood

The last of the descendants lived in the house until 1955. This was an unmarried daughter and she used the “ladies outside privy” until the very end. In the 1950s, a wealthy couple from Houston bought the plantation and spent $10,000,000 to restore it. It became a state historic site in 2000.

The St.  Francisville Inn, our B and B

The St. Francisville Inn, our B and B

Dinner in St. Francisville was initially a challenge. One recommended place had closed, another was not open on Tuesdays. Finally we went after a place based solely on the name, The Bluffs. It turned out to be at a golf course in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. However, it is a community planned around an Arnold Palmer designed golf course with expensive homes. But the clubhouse restaurant is open to the public and had a pot roast buffet for a reasonable price so we lucked out.

St. Francisville started as a Spanish town. When the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory, West Florida, the area along the Gulf Coast, was retained by Spain. Governmental dithering kept the confusion going as to where the boundary line was. In 1810, a group of Anglo-Saxon planters attacked the fort at Baton Rouge, captured the Spanish governor, and set up their own republic. After 2 1/2 months, the U.S. Army marched in and said okay this area is part of the U.S.

Barge traffic in the mist on the Mississippi

Barge traffic in the mist on the Mississippi

Ed and Chris 8:30 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “2014 Trip Two, March 11, Deep South

  1. Joyce

    Rosedown is a lovely plantation. There are many others in Southern Louisiana and in Natchez, MS, several of which showcase inventions specific to the times. One I remember particularly well still has the large wooden, single paddle fan above a dining table used primarily to keep the flies away. The rope to move the fan was manned by a young servant in the household. Of course, it also helped provide a cooling breeze to those dining.

    In this (and every) major part of the Bible Belt, towns, other than those with significant tourist trade and those along major transportation arteries, are pretty much shut down on Sundays as far as local, independent businesses and restaurants are concerned. Larger chain restaurants are open — now, after the Bible Belt people finally accepted the practice. Many of them were boycotted when they first tried to open on Sundays, and families would not let their kids (primary target employees) work at any establishment open on Sundays. Local visitor centers where staff are usually volunteers are also typically closed Sundays. Many areas of the South still maintain Sunday as a “day of rest”, primarily for attending church services and for families (and friends) to visit after church or during the afternoon for refreshments. In the case of Black church services in smaller communities, they usually last all day Sunday and include “dinner on the ground”.

    The very best Coca Cola museum is located in Atlanta, at the headquarters building of Coca Cola. It is fascinating, and there is an exhibit of the drug store you saw.

    I hope you are seeing camellia bushes in bloom, daffodils and hopefully the dogwoods will be in bloom somewhere along the way for you. Seeing dogwoods in bloom sprinkled through the woods is a beautiful sight to behold!

  2. Joyce

    Hi, Bernie, We lived in Atlanta, where Coca Cola is headquartered. I lived in the South–born in Shreveport, Louisiana, college in Ruston, Louisiana (small college town which was still “dry” at the time I went to college) and El Dorado, Arkansas, another small Southern town. I lived the Bible Belt era and know many people who still live in those areas. The small Southern towns still practice the Sunday church/family/friends visiting. The South is very slow to change; in fact, it prides itself in many areas, that it does not change. Right or wrong, good or bad to others’ perceptions it still maintains many of its long-time traditions.

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