By March 31, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Traveling Louisiana’s Cane River

ToletoBendNewA group of friends and I recently drove from Texas’ Lake Toleto Bend to visit Louisiana Civil War battlefields and plantations along the Cane River.  Leaving just a little after sunrise, we visited the Mansfield Historic Battlefield -the last battle in the Civil War.  Although the Confederates won this battle,  they had already lost the war.   Following the Cane River, we passed plantations, some still farming and privately held, some deserted and decaying, and one, Oakland, part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.  From the early 1800’s through the late 1990’s it produced cotton, first by slave labor and then with tenant farmers.  It is one of only two plantations west of the Mississippi to be farmed and owned by the same family for over 200 years.  Today, the Prudhomme family’s grandson,Paul Prudhomme, is the  reknown Louisiana/Creole chef and author.

Ever wondered why all these plantations had long drives bordered by sheltering oaks or elms?  Apparently this was to create a wind (breeze) tunnel toward the front door.  And, the main house rooms are always on the second or third stories as the first story is for those serving the family.  Trap doors in various rooms enabled a mother to rap on the floor to summon her nanny or a lady to tap the floor to indicate she  needed an attendant.

Downton_Abby-01a_250x357Interesting how many of these homes resemble the same “upstairs/downstairs” experiences in European countries.  After the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, like a Southern Downton Abbey, the plantation was the livelihood of hundreds of people.  The plantation provided the general stores, the medical care, the banking system for the whole area and while the social structure was tiered, no Earls or Ladies reigned  in the South.   In the American South, only successfully managed family businesses could survive the civil war and prosper in that new world. Now that I think about it, Downton Abbey, while managed by titled nobility, was facing the same challenges, and most of the manor houses did not survive the Industrial Revolution and World War II.  Downton Abbey is actually Highclear Castle in Newton, England.  It  has  survived by producing happy tourists, probably easier than growing cotton.

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Ben says,  “Traveling is one way of lengthening life.”

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Posted in: Travel Life

About the Author:

I am an observer of our interesting world , sharing my passions and my outrages, and thinking of Incredible Ben, his amazing blending of a social and civic life with superb common sense.

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