Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stop #1. (Rapides) Louisiana State University at Alexandria

(pg. 4) THE TRAIL OF NORTHUP THROUGH CENTRAL LOUISIANA begins at LSU-Alexandria. Leave the campus and drive [left blank] miles south down Highway 71. You will arrive at a crossroads with a bridge over Bayou Lamourie, and a railroad track at your right. The locks in the bayou are to your left, and to see them well, you will need to park your car and walk across the highway to see these massive brick locks. bayou Lamourie flows into Bayou Beouf a few miles to the west.

Lamourie, which has the strange name of "La Mourir," was a crossroads antebellum community with the terminal of the Red River Railroad, or the Ralph Smith Railroad, located here in 1837. By 1841, when Northup came to this point, the railroad owners had sold sufficient stock to secure funds for extending the road another six miles into Smith's Landing (later named Lecompte). It had only begun when William Prince Ford brought his slaves "on the cars" to Lamourie and disembarked to walk across the plantations toward his home and the sawmill where he planned to use the new slaves.

Lamourie was probably the site of a primitive boarding house, a general store, and a shingle mill owned by A. Levin which produced shingles for the frontier for miles to the west. The shingles from the Lamourie Mill were sent as far as the Oklahoma territory. The shingle mill may have been the reason that Ford was sending logs from his sawmill to Lamourie. In Northup's account he used expertise gained in the northern rafting to lead an expedition into Lamourie and become something of a hero in the savings this represented to Ford.

The Red River Railroad was the first railroad contructed west of the Mississippi River. The primitive train was destroyed during the Civil War by Union forces  and the rails were used in the Bailey Dam in Red River in 1864.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to contact you regarding this post but your email link did not work. My mother was born in Lamourie and I am trying to write about her life. Do you share your photographs and sources? Thank you.