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Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana

Oak Alley
Oak Alley

The thing about bayous is that they are humid, wet places. Very wet places. The trees that grow there know it. The things that live there know it. I knew it, too. Know it still. Bayous drip. Another thing about bayous is that they are musical places. They sing to you all night long, in full chorus. There’s more to a bayou than frogs and crickets.

After spending the afternoon touring a classic antebellum mansion, we’d camped at Sam Houston Jones State Park in a bayou, giving me a great appreciation for the people who live in (or rather, on) the bayou. All along the old River Road snaking along the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, plantations once thrived a stone’s throw from the river’s edge.

Somewhere between the water and the land, the French Creole elite built country estates along the river. Plantation homes of all shapes and sizes. Some were constructed of simple clapboard. Others were made of double-wall, thick slave-hewn bricks.

Oak Alley, however, is not called the Grande Dame of the Great River Road for nothing. Set back behind a quarter-mile avenue lined with magnificent 300-year-old grandmother oaks stands the classic Greek-Revival style antebellum mansion owned by none other than the man known as the Sugar King of Louisiana.

We stopped in for a tour and learned that aside from the imported roof slate and marble used for the floors and fireplaces, the materials for the construction of the mansion had all either been found or made on site. Interestingly, this prominent family spent $400 a week to have ice chunks shipped down the Mississippi from the north in order to preserve delicacies such as dairy, which was buried in the cool earth in large terra-cotta olive crocks away from the hot, humid climate. We spied just a single window with the diamond etching of a bride-to-be – the tell-tale signature of an authentic antebellum mansion.

Spending a leisurely afternoon beneath the trees, communing with the awesomeness of nature and time, we sipped our first mint julep. We later ate lunch at the onsite café, where I sampled alligator, which seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Like so many Southern plantations, this refined family eventual auctioned their beloved 1,360-acre estate and all their personal belongings in order to survive the post-Civil War turmoil that resulted from the Reconstruction Act. And like anything else left unattended in the bayou, all that was polished and refined was soon consumed and reclaimed by the wild. Cattle, birds and snakes took up residency in the marble halls of Oak Alley, until it was later restored to its original grandeur.

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Oak Alley
Oak Alley

The thing about bayous is that they are humid, wet places. Very wet places. The trees that grow there know it. The things that live there know it. I knew it, too. Know it still. Bayous drip. Another thing about bayous is that they are musical places. They sing to you all night long, in full chorus. There’s more to a bayou than frogs and crickets.

After spending the afternoon touring a classic antebellum mansion, we’d camped at Sam Houston Jones State Park in a bayou, giving me a great appreciation for the people who live in (or rather, on) the bayou. All along the old River Road snaking along the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, plantations once thrived a stone’s throw from the river’s edge.

Somewhere between the water and the land, the French Creole elite built country estates along the river. Plantation homes of all shapes and sizes. Some were constructed of simple clapboard. Others were made of double-wall, thick slave-hewn bricks.

Oak Alley, however, is not called the Grande Dame of the Great River Road for nothing. Set back behind a quarter-mile avenue lined with magnificent 300-year-old grandmother oaks stands the classic Greek-Revival style antebellum mansion owned by none other than the man known as the Sugar King of Louisiana.

We stopped in for a tour and learned that aside from the imported roof slate and marble used for the floors and fireplaces, the materials for the construction of the mansion had all either been found or made on site. Interestingly, this prominent family spent $400 a week to have ice chunks shipped down the Mississippi from the north in order to preserve delicacies such as dairy, which was buried in the cool earth in large terra-cotta olive crocks away from the hot, humid climate. We spied just a single window with the diamond etching of a bride-to-be – the tell-tale signature of an authentic antebellum mansion.

Spending a leisurely afternoon beneath the trees, communing with the awesomeness of nature and time, we sipped our first mint julep. We later ate lunch at the onsite café, where I sampled alligator, which seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Like so many Southern plantations, this refined family eventual auctioned their beloved 1,360-acre estate and all their personal belongings in order to survive the post-Civil War turmoil that resulted from the Reconstruction Act. And like anything else left unattended in the bayou, all that was polished and refined was soon consumed and reclaimed by the wild. Cattle, birds and snakes took up residency in the marble halls of Oak Alley, until it was later restored to its original grandeur.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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