Madison, Tensas & Franklin Parishes
Researching rural parishes to write up staycation ideas; at first it seems there is nothing of interest. But every parish has a history, has people of interest and activities to experience – so I research. Sure enough if you get past Disney expectations there are authentic experiences to enjoy, not just fairy tales, in our backyard.
In 1807 the territorial legislature of the Orleans District passed an act dividing the territory into 19 parishes. Over the decades especially during Reconstruction it was further divided until it reached today’s 64. Areas what were very important at one time became obscure. Every place has it’s story. They fade into obscurity when their story stops being told. To visit forgotten areas and hear their stories gives us new appreciation for them.
The most important consideration for a road trip is comfort. Details such as the ease of getting in and out of the vehicle, room to store coats, cameras, packs; room for luggage and types of seating are important. Riverside Limousine’s 10 Passenger Sprinter or 18 Passenger Limo Bus offer great comfort options. And traveling with a small groups enhances the flexibility of your schedule. In addition the option of refreshments on board and an audio video system enhance the joy of travel.
The parish where our staycation will start had the first airport in the state, first used crop dusting to fight boll weevil, had the first covered mall and first self-made American female millionaire . It also has a claim to being the home of Delta Airlines. During the Civil War this parish was the site of the Battle of Miliken’s Bend. Our first stop will be Tallulah in Madison Parish. To get there we’ll go north from Baton Rouge on Hwy 61 to Vicksburg and cross the river on I 20.
For lunch we’ll stop at the Country Pride Restaurant. They have an interesting menu including the “Gator” Burger. After a quick bite we’ll visit sites in Tallulah.
Crescent Plantation was saved from destruction by a sick woman. A Union troop with orders to burn down plantations was met on the property by the owner who informed the officer in charge that his wife was sick in bed and the doctor said if she was moved she would likely die. The officer answered, “Sir we do not murder women. I wish you a good day” and left the house unharmed.
Then we will visit the Hermione Museum to learn about Madame C.J. Walker (the first American, self-made, female, millionaire), aviation in Madison parish and hard fought Civil War battles. From there we’ll travel to the Tensas River Wildlife Refuge the home of ivory billed redheaded woodpeckers, black bear and many other species.
We’ll check in late to our rooms at The Fowler House and the Jackson Street Guest House. Both are given glowing recommendations and ratings by visitors. Our professional chauffeur can shuttle between the two locations and coordinate schedules. The Fowler House is a restored country farm house on a working farm.
Tensas is the least populated parish in Louisiana – and getting smaller. Winter Quarters State Historic Site is located near Newellton on Lake St. Joseph. This site was damage by a tornado in 2011 and is schedule to re-open in 2014. It was one of few plantations not destroyed by Union soldiers in the campaign of 1863.
St. Joseph is the parish seat. It was incorporated as a town in 1903. It’s historic district is designed with a New England style village green and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nearby St. Joseph is Lake Bruin, one of the state’s many ox bow lakes. Like the other numerous parks and refuges in North Louisiana it is an excellent location to bird watch and see wildlife. The state park is located in the area described as the Louisiana Black Bear Critical Habitat. There are many spots to observe wildlife from trails, fishing piers or rented boats.
With our hosts at the Fowler House and the LSU Ag Center we’ll arrange to tour farms in Franklin Parish. The Fowler House is itself located on a working farm. At the end of the day we’ll be returning to Baton Rouge.
Remember, “we drive … you have fun!”