When you think of a plantation, the main house on Gone with the Wind comes to mind. Although most of the southern plantations are gone, there are still some in Louisiana. Most of them offer tours. Some of the plantations you can tour are Myrtle Plantation, which is also a bed and breakfast, Oak Alley Plantation, Oakland Plantation, and Magnolia Plantation.
Oakland and Magnolia Plantations owe their physical integrity to the generations that kept them intact and passed them on. In 1785, the French Prud’homme family began farming the land at Oakland. Magnolia can trace its origin back to the mid-18th century to the French LeComte family and to the German Hertzog family. On the Oakland Plantation, there are 27 historic buildings, and is open for tours daily. When the plantation was acquired by the National Park Service in 1998 and has turned it into a working plantation so people can grasp what it was like centuries ago.
The National Park Service also owns Magnolia Plantation with the exception of the main house, which is owned by the Descendants of Ambrose and Sarah Hertzog. The Myrtle Plantation has the reputation of being one of the most haunted houses in America. During the day, the tours center on the history and at night, the tours turn to the ghosts. On Friday and Saturday, they give a mystery tour.
Oak Alley Plantation began as a small cottage along the Mississippi River. They are also a bed and breakfast inn, and is considered haunted. An onsite restaurant serves up Cajun and Creole food for breakfast and lunch. This plantation also offers ghost tours. This plantation is often on the list for New Orleans day tours. The entrance to the plantation is a canopy of giant live oak trees.
You can find many southern plantations to tour while on vacation in Louisiana, especially around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The tours give you an insight as to how life was before the Civil War. One of the “must see” plantations is the Destrehan Plantation home in New Orleans. It appeared in the movie Interview with a Vampire.
The Ormond Plantation is often the backdrop for many southern weddings. Their bed and breakfast rooms are decorated with period antiques, and you can even have breakfast on the porch. The Magnolia Mound Plantation is a rare example of the architecture used in the city by early settlers. The plantation is home to many events that seek to preserve the history of Baton Rouge. The Butler Greenwood Plantation has one of the best preserved Victoria parlors on display.
When in Louisiana, make sure that you take one of the plantation tours so you will be able to visit the best ones. Most of the plantation tours are considered day tours. You can find plantations in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and surrounding areas. If you want to sample life in a southern plantation, stay at one of the many bed and breakfast plantations, and enjoy the Mint Julep for which they are famous.
There is so much to see and do on vacation in Louisiana. Some of the things that you should make time for is a visit to some of the National Historic Parks. You have the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, Cane River Creole National Historic Park, and Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. In addition, you should visit the Poverty Point National Monument.
New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park
This park was established to celebrate the origins and evolutions of America’s musical art form. They are seeking to preserve resources and information associated with the origins and early development of jazz. The park is open Tuesday through Sunday, except for Fat Tuesday and Christmas. April is Jazz Appreciation Month, which includes the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and French Quarter Festival. Trivia: Congo square was one of only two areas in the United States where African drumming, dancing, and singing were permitted during the 18th century to the 19th century.
Cane River Creole National Historic Park
This park is the home to two plantations, Oakland and Magnolia, where you can wander through the grounds. This included 42 acres of the Oakland Plantation and 18 acres of outbuildings on the Magnolia Plantation. Alongside the plantations is the Cane River, which has provided transportation, entertainment, and substance for many generations. The park is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm, with self-guiding maps on site.
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve
This park was established to preserve for present and future generations significant cultural resources of Louisiana’s Mississippi Delta. It seeks to illustrate the influence of history and environment on the development of a unique culture. In this park and preserve, you will find alligators, food you will not forget, music with a beat that will not stop, and the Mississippi River rolling straight through it.
Poverty Point National Monument
This national monument is located in northeastern Louisiana. This park commemorates a culture that thrived during the first two millennia B.C. It contains some of the largest prehistoric earth works in North America. The Poverty Point inhabitants built a complex array of earthen mounds and ridges overlooking the Mississippi River flood plain. The central construction consists of six roles of concentric ridges. At one time, they were 5 feet tall. It was estimated that it took at least 5 million hours of labor to build these massive earthworks. Laborers carried the dirt to the site in baskets of a 50-pound capacity. This site has more than 400 acres. In 1962, Poverty Point was designated a National Historic Landmark. While at this park, make sure that you take a tram tour and visit the interpretive museum.
These are just four of the many sites that you can visit while in Louisiana. There are plantations to visit, shopping, eating of Cajun food, visiting New Orleans and so much more. When you vacation in Louisiana, make sure that you have at least a two-week vacation because it will take you that long to see everything.
The earliest settlement of Louisiana was by Native Americans. Louisiana is bathed in the cultural influences of American Indians, Spain, France, Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States of America. The first Europeans explores to visit Louisiana was in 1528 when a Spanish expedition located the mouth of the Mississippi River.
European interest lay dormant until the 17th century. This is when French expeditions got a foothold on Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River. With its first settlement, France laid claim to a vast region of North America. France wanted to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. Robert Cavelier de La Salle, a French explorer, named the region Louisiana to honor France’s King Louis XIV in 1682. A French military officer from Canada founded the first permanent settlement in 1699.
Originally, the French colony of Louisiana claimed all the land on both sides of the Mississippi and north to the French territory in Canada. The settlement of Natchitoches was established in 1714, which made it the oldest permanent settlement in the territory that comprised Louisiana. This French settlement had two goals in mind. The first was to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas and secondly, to deter the Spanish from advancing into Louisiana.
France made New Orleans the seat of military and civilian authority in 1722 when they recognized the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests. In addition to the French moving into Louisiana, the Germans had settled along the Mississippi in a region referred to as the German Coast.
The first slaves were brought to Louisiana in 1719 on two ships, the Duc du Maine and the Aurore. From 1718 to 1750, thousands of slaves were brought to Louisiana from the Senegambian coast. According to French shipping records, 2000 individuals arrived from the upper West Africa slave port, another 2000 were exported from Whydah, and roughly 300 from Cabinda.
Most of the territory to the east of the Mississippi was lost to the King of Great Britain in the French and Indian war. The only areas not lost were the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain and the areas around the New Orleans. The rest of Louisiana became a possession of Spain in 1763. Another after effect of the French and Indian War was the immigration of refugees that were expelled from their homeland in Canada. They settled in the southwestern Louisiana and were welcomed by the Spanish. Their descendants came to be called Cajuns.
In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San lldefonso. Bonaparte gave up his dream of an American empire and sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States. It was divided into two territories, The Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana. Louisiana became a state in 1812. By 1840, New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States. In 1860, Louisiana had the largest free black populations in the United States. Most of them lived in New Orleans region and southern part of the state.
Mardi Gras is a carnival celebration well-known throughout the world. The New Orleans Carnival Season, with its roots in the preparing for the start of Lent, starts after the Twelfth Night on Epiphany(January 6). It is a season of parades, balls, masquerade balls, and king cake parties. At one time, it was the “coming out” parties for at debutante balls. The celebrations are concentrated for two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.
Weather permitting there is usually one parade a day, sometimes more than one. The last five days of the season is when the largest and most elaborate paraded take place. Many events small and large occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities the last week of the season.
The parade in New Orleans are organized by Carnival crew, who ride on the floats and toss strings of plastic beads, doubloons, which are wooden or aluminum dollar-size coins, decorated plastic cups, and small inexpensive toys.
Many tourists center their Mardi Gras activities in the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. None of the major parades has entered the French Quarters since 1972. This is because of the narrow streets and overhead obstruction. To the people of New Orleans, Mardi Gras refers to the Tuesday before lent and the highlight of the season.
Early settlers brought the celebration of Mardi Gras to Louisiana. In 1857, the first parade of Mardi Gras was held. In 1875, Mardi Gras was declared a legal state holiday. The city has always celebrated this carnival in spite of weather conditions, war, politics, and economics that sometimes led to the cancellation of some or all major parades.
In 1979, the New Orleans police went on strike, forcing the cancellation of some parades or moving them to surrounding communities. Fewer tourists came to the city that year. The people of New Orleans still had masks, costumes, and celebration overseen by the National Guard.
The devastation caused in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina made people question the future of the Mardi Gras celebrations. Mardi Gras was still celebrated that year but many things were scaled back. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, yellow, and green. The purple means justice, the yellow means gold, and the green means faith.
Each year at the start of carnival, the Twelfth Night Revelers holds a masked ball each year to mark the occasion. The parade season starts some three weekends before Mardi Gras. Starting two Fridays before Mardi Gras, there is usually a parade every night.
The weekend of Mardi Gras the population of New Orleans more than doubles with the visitors who come to New Orleans to party. The Monday before Mardi Gras is known as Fat Monday. Mardi Gras can fall on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9. On Mardi Gras day, the celebrations start early. Mardi Gras ends the same way it started. It ends with a masked ball.
Promptly at midnight on Fat Tuesday, a mounted squad of New Orleans police officers makes a show of clearing revelers from Bourbon Street.
You may be one of those people who do not believe in ghosts but if you choose to stay in one of the haunted bed and breakfast plantations, you may change your mind. Some of the hauntings may just be an over active imagination, a story that has been told many times, each time adding more to the story, and many other reasons. All the voodoo and black magic that African-Americans was supposed to do when they slaves, may be one of the reasons many in Louisiana believe in ghosts.
The Destrehan Manor stories of being haunted came after restorations began on the plantation. From staff members to tourists, there have been reports of hearing unexplained sounds, mysterious happenings, and apparitions. The main ghost is said to be that of Stephen Henderson who lived with his wife, who died unexpectedly at age 19, at the house. It is said he died several years later, never fully recovering from the death of his wife.
At the Parlange Plantation, the ghost of Julie Vincent de Ternant has never left. Her mother forced her to marry a man she did not love, and on her wedding day, she went crazy. She ran screaming through the alley of oak trees in front of the house and flung herself against a base of a tree, shattering her skull against the trunk. She was buried on the plantation in her wedding gown. By the light of the full moon, you can see Julie as she makes her terrible journey through the oak trees.
At the Myrtles Plantation, one of America’s most famous haunted houses, the ghost that they claim to see is that of Chloe, the vengeful slave who, in a fit of anger and jealously, murdered the wife and two daughters of Clark Woodruff. They have also claimed to hear footsteps on the stairs and mysterious smells.
The Chretienne Point claims to have the ghost of the woman of the house, Felicite Chretienne, who still walks in the grand mansion today, keeping an eye on the house her money built. One time pirates broke into the house, and she shot one of them in the head. They say that you can hear the sound of that fateful pistol shot echoing in the stairway, and the sound of the body of the pirate as he falls and tumbles down the staircase. The bloodstains left behind by the pirate were never removed from the staircase. It is said that it cannot be washed away, and on the nights you hear the pistol shot, the blood turns liquid again.
The Cottage is said to be haunted by the ghost of Holt who was the children’s tutor and died at the cottage. Some visitors claim they have heard strange music and the sounds of singing. Others have claimed that they have seen him walking through the house pulling at his beard and mumbling to himself.
The only way to know if these plantations are haunted is to stay at one of these plantations and find out for yourself!