During my tour of Oak Alley Plantation ( www.oakalleyplantation.org ), I was able to understand that this famous scene was the "street" or passageway that led from the banks of the Mississippi River to the "big house", where the planter/owner lived with their family. It is one fourth mile in length, and made up of 300 year old live oak trees. The photo below shows a closer view of the familiar Louisiana plantation-style home that usually comes to mind, when you think about this part of the country.
Another very popular historic home to tour in the area is The Houmas House ( www.houmashouse.com ). What I find amazing about this home, is that the owner actually lives there still, yet he lets visitors enter his "inner sanctom", to get a glimpse of how the property is being used now. In addition to it providing a domicile for the owner, he has added to the property so that it has large spaces for special events, a restaurant, gift shop, and rental cottages for overnight visitors.
I mentioned that seeing "Oak Alley" was a long-time dream; likewise, a swamp boat tour has also been an activity that has interested me. On this trip, we were able to take our first trip into the swamp on an air boat ( www.SwampAdventuresNOLA.com ), equipped with "ear muffs" to protect our ears from the extremely loud fan motor that propels the boat over the shallow waters. Once we had journeyed deep into the swamp, the driver stopped the boat, we took off our ear protection, and listened/watched as he pointed out the fascinating flora and fauna that surrounded us:
All of the plantations we visited included recreated slave quarters, in order to commemorate the people who did the actual physical labor to make these properties possible. The re-created slave quarters shown below were at the San Francisco Plantation.
www.sanfranciscoplantation.org ) is shown in photo below, and is on property owned by Marathon Oil.
The first time I saw a photo of the San Francisco Plantation, I was immediately curious about the cylindrical tower pictured adjacent to the big house. During my tour of the property, I learned that this was their water storage and supply system. If you look closely at the photo below, you will see that there is a pipe leading from the tower, into the upper story of the home.
At the Destrehan Plantation ( www.destrehanplantation.org ) we were able to see their water supply tower system (shown below), which was not quite as ornate as the one at the San Francisco property.
There are various educational exhibits/demonstrations available for visitors at the Drestehan Plantation. I was delighted that the one our group was able to witness, involved the use of the indigo plant, which was one of the crops grown on plantations, hundreds of years ago:www.plantation.com ) indicates they also function as a Bed and Breakfast, to provide overnight lodging.
Another plantation we visited that has an architecture less associated with an "antebellum" time period, was the Laura Plantation (www.lauraplantation.com ). It is said to have a "Creole" design, and our tour guide did an outstanding job of describing the lifestyles of the various creole characters who have lived there:
www.evergreenplantation.org ), and for me, it was the most memorable because of the animated stories provided by our tour guide. Before we retreated to the air-conditioned interior spaces to tour, we went around to the front of the house which faces the Mississippi River and levee, to get a photograph of its impressive entryway way and porch:
www.whitneyplantation.com ) it is focused almost entirely on the enslaved people who were born there and died there, or otherwise wound up at this location. He built a wall, inspired by the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., that is engraved with
Our group visited a historic church (Riverlands Christian Center) in Reserve, Louisiana that gives a glimpse at what segregation in the churches looked like in the pre-civil rights era. Since it was a Sunday, we were able to participate in their weekly worship services, as well as hear a presentation called "Soul River---A Musical Journey through African American History". Visitors are always welcome at the worship services of the Riverlands Christian Center, and to schedule a presentation of their "Soul River" program, call 985-210-6621.
www.firstplace4health.com ) memory verses that says, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:17 . I am very thankful for the strong faith of persecuted Christians, that enables them to endure their hardships, because of their faith in God's promises. This church is a reminder of a time when the ONLY hope an enslaved person had, was that of eternal glory, after they died.
This trip along Louisiana's Plantation Trail gave me "MILES OF SMILES"! (Or, as they say in the swamp, "See ya later, alligator!")