Saturday, September 28, 2019

Tammany Trace Tunnels

Tunnels are fairly rare in south Louisiana, but soon St. Tammany will have more than one. A tunnel is now being built under La. Hwy. 59 midway between Mandeville and Abita Springs to take Tammany Trace pedestrian and cyclist traffic underground. 

The safety improvements will help persons using the Tammany Trace get across the busy highway by entering a long tunnel that goes below the highway. The highway will also be re-aligned to produce a smoother S-curve. The highway in that area is bordered by several commercial/industrial driveways.

 A tunnel was built under U. S. 190 in Mandeville in 2001 to handle Tammany Trace traffic going through that area. Click on the images to make them larger.


The U.S. 190 Tammany Trace tunnel in Mandeville


The new tunnel, Highway Project H.010184, was bid out by the State of Louisiana - Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), with Meyer Engineers, Ltd. designing and providing project management for the planned Tammany Trace tunnel under LA 59. 



A portion of the highway plans layout for the Tammany Trace tunnel. The tunnel is shown going from side to side at a slight angle in dark cross-hatching. West is at the top. 


According to the department, the project will remove the existing, dangerous at-grade crossing between the Tammany Trace and LA 59 by routing traffic on the Trace under LA 59 with a 150 foot long tunnel. The tunnel will include approach ramps, a sump pump to keep the tunnel dry, lighting, and waterproofing. An at grade crossing with LA 59 will be maintained to allow access to the Trace from LA 59.



This view, with west at the top, shows the old existing road in light outline, and the new roadway with connecting side roads in dark lines. Business driveways are seen also in light outline. Turning lanes may also be a part of the roadway. 


The "S" Curve
 
"Additionally, the project will improve LA 59 by straightening the existing sharp "S" curve left behind from when the Tammany Trace was a railroad.
 


This part of Tammany Trace soon to be underground

  

A close up of plans for the tunnel cross-section

Equipment on site to relocate overhead powerlines
 
. This project is part of a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) between St. Tammany Parish and LA DOTD. Overall the project may cost close to $4 million.

The Mandeville Tammany Trace Tunnel
 
Here are some photographs of the existing tunnel in Mandeville where Tammany Trace swoops under the busy U.S. Hwy. 190 thoroughfare.














See also:

http://www.tammanytrace.org/
 
Tammany Trace Opens


Tracing the Old Railroad

Friday, September 27, 2019

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer of September 27, 1919. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.






New Train Depot To Be Built



Post War Announcement of Possible Shipyard Closing



Society and Local Personal News


 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mandeville Improves Harbor/Sea Wall in 1921

On June 12, 1921, the New Orleans Item newspaper ran an extensive article on plans to improve the Mandeville harbor and lakefront. A copy of the article was found in the history research files of Don Sharp. Here is the text from that article:

Mandeville Takes Vigorous Forward Step in Improvement Bond Issues For $57,000

City by Lake Plans Great Civic, Industrial Revival

Mandeville Citizens Vote Bonds To Repair Streets and Sea-wall and Build New Docks - Free Sites Offered to Factories 
By George Daws (Item, June 12, 1921)

A sleepy, dreamy, little, typically-Southern town on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, some 22 miles from New Orleans; a town where the "folks" thought more of the traditions of their Spanish and French forefathers who first settled there than of progress and improvements; a town where great moss covered oaks sheltered wide, dusty streets, and where wonderful natural advantages were never brought to commercial use.

That was the Mandeville of yesterday. But now --

It's a lively, bustling town where the people are digging deep into their pockets to pay for improvements; where within a few short months the great work of dredging out the Bayou Castaign and  basin for big passenger ships, repairing the streets, mending the gap in the long sea-wall, will begin; where all the talk is of the future and of the three factories that are soon to be built.




Plans furnished by Mr. Reine, who will donate property for three factories, and a street. Bond issue money will be spent to build docks and dredge the channel. Click on the map to make it larger.

A great change has come over the little town of Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish. There are new city officials, headed by Mayor Dr. W. E. Van Zant. Bond issues, one a municipal issue of $32,000 to repair the streets and the sea-wall, and the other, a ward issue of $25,000 to dredge the Bayou and the basin and building the new docks, have been voted.

People Are In Earnest

The people in Mandeville are in earnest, there's no doubt about that. There's a great deal of joking and laughter and banter about the new improvements, but beneath the surface there is strength of the new belief that money must be spent to bring to the city the prosperity and growth it deserves. An indication of the popular feeling may be obtained when it is noted that there was but one dissenting vote in the issuing of the bonds. Every other person in the city and ward who voted was in favor of it.

It means a whole lot that dredging of the Bayou Castaign. It means there will be a large and safe shelter for ships and barges, that the passenger boats from New Orleans will have the right kind of docking facilities, that new factories will spring up, new workmen will come and new homes will be built.

It means progress, nothing else. And the people of the little city, now fully awake to all they've been letting slip by them during the past, are putting "shoulders to the wheel" in their whole-hearted fight to make it all a great big success.

First Settled in 1739

Way back in 1739, the first settlers crossed Lake Pontchartrain moored their boats up Bayou Castaign and settled on the site of what is now Mandeville. The Edwards, Morgans, Spells, and Tournieres were the first to come and they made friends with the Choctaw Indians. There never was much Indian trouble about that country.

The descendants of those first pioneers are residents of Mandeville. The names that are famous in the history of the little city are heard on every side. In 1797 came two other families, and in 1834 Marquis Bernard DeMarigny and his band came. The Marquis, owner of vast tracts of land mapped out the little city and began calling it Mandeville."

The newspaper article explained that with the bond issue money, the bayou would be deepened to ten feet. "A basin for ships to turn in will be dredged. A small sea wall will be built. A new dock with sheds for the protection of both passengers and freight will be built.

The bonds according to the law, cannot be offered for sale until 60 days after the election, which was held on May 25, 1921. At that time, as many as possible will be sold to the citizens of Mandeville and an attempt will be made to have merchants in New Orleans invest in the remainder.

Guard Health Reputation


There is one thing the people of Mandeville are jealous of and that is the reputation their city has as a health resort. Stories are told, and in many instances by interested persons themselves, of almost miraculous recoveries from sickness.

But about the best argument of all is the statement of Dr. Van Zant, the mayor: "Mandeville is too doggone healthy for a doctor."

Great forests of pine stretch for miles back of the city. The visitors who flock there during both the summer and winter seasons are the ones who "hike" up through the trees.

The cooling breezes from the lake keep them comfortable through the hot summer days. Then there is the fishing. Red snappers, red fish, trout, croakers, shrimp and soft shell crab abound in the waters of the lake. In the winter there is hunting, principally for wild ducks and geese, quail and partridge.

Attacts Weekenders

Every weekend hundreds of New Orleanians visit Mandeville. The Pleasure Bay, one of the largest passenger boats on Lake Pontchartrain, will shortly begin to make the trips from West End to Mandeville. Railroads run excursion trains every Sunday. The coaches that left New Orleans last Sunday were filled with typical picnic throngs - there were old folks and the young couples, and the swimming set and lunch baskets and all of the other things considered necessary.

It's really a mystery where all of the people go when they leave the train in Mandeville. They just seems to disappear. Some go right down to the lake and follow its winding shoreline out for a mile or so, probably to their own favorite fishing ground. Others head into the forests to spend the day beneath the great sheltering trees. Many have their own picnic grounds, hidden away in the trees.

And then "Lover's Lane." It's a long, long trail through the woods winding along over the little creeks and diminutive ravines, past the immense trees and back from the lake into the very heart of the forest. It's popular... but not too popular, Y'understand?

Mandeville heartily welcomes the visitors. Right now plans are being made to offer the excursionists better accommodations. There is talk of clearing out more spaces beneath the trees and building little benches and tables; of improving the beach for swimming and erecting more bath houses and probably opening a large dancing pavilion.

Population Swells In Summer

In the summer the population of Mandeville is some 600 to 800 greater. There are scores of houses for rent every year and visitors from all over the country go there to spend the season.

The main industry of the little city is the Poitevent and Favre sawmill where over 250 men are employed. There the yellow pine, brought down from the forests about 9 to 10 miles back of the city, is cut into timber.

The Chinchuba Deaf Mute Institute, operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame, is on the outskirts of the town.

On the lake shore is the great house called "Rest-A-While," a summer home for Orleans people operated by the King's Daughters. All during the summer months different groups come there to stay for the two-week vacation.

This year the high school will be opened in the new school building. This building, recently inspected by state officials, was declared to be one of the best in the state, especially as regards athletic equipment. H. H. Levy, of the parish school board, was one of the strongest workers for the erection of the new building.

New Depot Erected

The New Orleans and Great Northern Railroad recently built a new depot in Mandeville, costing $10,000.

The Public School League, an organization of mothers, is the leading club of Mandeville and is active in all school matters.

Then there is also the Mandeville Progressive Association, the chief civic organization. Dr. Van Zant is president.

Two of the strongest workers for the street improvements are Jules Bagur, retired, former proprietor of a New Orleans store, and Paul Esquinance.

Many of the more important plans for the dredging of the bayou were made by George E. Reine, the owner of much of the land on the west side of the bayou. Some time ago, Mr. Reine succeeded in having sent to Mandeville government engineers, who were to report on the government opening the mouth of the bayou.

This work was not done, it is said, because the government officials refused to O.K. the expenditure unless factories were built before the bayou was opened. This could not be accomplished, so the work was stopped.

Sites Donated Facilities

Mr. Reine declared he has already entered into negotiations with the men who will erect the woodle handle and the canning factory and the saw mill. He has promised to donate sites for these factories and also to give to the city the property for a new street to border the bayou.

Reports have been current that the Southern Yacht Club will build a "stop station" at Mandeville after the bayou is opened. The ground for this house will also be donated, it is reported.

Some distance up the Bayou there is a natural basin, where the yachts could easily turn around. It is reported to have the "stop station" there.

Mandeville Yacht Club

The Mandeville Yacht Club, which has disbanded some years ago, will be re-organized, said Mr. Reine, when the bayou is re-opened. In years gone by there were great yacht races there and the people of the city are anxious to have them again.

New City Officials

Here are the names of the new city officials:

Dr. W. E. Van Zant, mayor; Councilman W. A. Griffin, Stephen Jozsn, W. R. Smith, E. H. Baudot, and James Band.

The committee named by the city to have charge of the work of arranging for the $32,000 bond issue includes the following: H. H. Levy, A. Dupre, Charles A. David, D. J. Mulligan and George Glockner.

There's but one conclusion to be drawn after a trip to Mandeville and a visit with the "live" citizens of that city and that is --

The city is progressing. There is a forward spirit, there is cooperation between all classes, with a noticeable lack of "bickering" between the various elements. That the city is bound to grow and that the "neighbors" across the lake - the Orleanians - are going to be mighty proud of Mandeville in time to come. 



See also:


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The River of Falling Hair

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, many articles appeared in New Orleans newspapers telling about the lives and legends of Native Americans living in St. Tammany Parish. A good number of those articles told about Indian princesses.

Here is an article from the Louisiana Digital Archives that was published in the Times-Democrat newspaper on August 28, 1884, some 135 years ago. If you've ever wondered how Ponchatoula got its name and what life was like for Choctaws living along the Bogue Chitto river in northern St. Tammany, read this tragic account: 

The River of The Falling Hair  
A Chatta Tradition
(Published Aug. 28, 1884, Times-Democrat)

Those who have traveled the old road between Covington, in St. Tammany Parish, La., and the little town of Franklinton, lying about thirty miles northwardly, can hardly fail to recall the pebbly ford where the Bogue Chitto river is crossed.   After a long and somewhat monotonous ride through an unbroken pine forest, as one approaches this beautiful stream the undergrowth becomes thicker, the magnolia, gum and ash take the place of the pine, and the whole aspect of the country undergoes a sudden  and refreshing change.

   So dense is the foliage overhead, even at midday there remains a soft twilight in these woods, made all the more imposing and solemn by the almost perfect silence hold¬ing dominion here.Some times the mellow note of the cardinal or sharp bark of the squirrel will break upon the ear, but even those familiar sounds, tinged by the magnetic stillness that reigns around, assumes a peculiar weirdness that almost disguises them.

   Sweeter even than the Cardinal's call, the listening ear can sometimes catch the faint laughter of the Bogue Chitto, when in the low water its rapid current dances over shallows of pebbles or sings through the branches of fallen trees that seek to impede its course. The sound is so minute, so frail, so exquisitely delicate, that the ear at first fails to record its vibrations, but once detected the music becomes deliciously melodious and seems to fill the air. 



The Bogue Chitto River near the Village of Sun

In this respect it is not unlike those insect sounds Tyndall speaks of in his Alpine excursions.   Even at the highest altitudes where to the uncultivated ear the silence was oppressive, for up above the clouds, with glaciers and crags around him, he found by closest attention he could catch the attenuated chirpings and raspings of insect life, where before he fancied not a sound was breaking the stillness.   The longer his attention was engaged with this hum the louder it became, until at last it sounded like a vast chorus.

Moving down the rood in the direction of the silvery music, the river itself soon comes into view, its rippling surface reflecting the bright sunshine like the facets of a diamond far back into the sombre corridors of the forest. The descent into the river is gentle and the ford easy of passage during an average stage of water.   Clear and cold the river flows with considerable current, the white pebbles at the bottom shining in softened outline.   After the dusty journey the horse, as well as the rider, enjoys the change from the tiresome undulations of the pine hills, and invariably both indulge in long and refreshing draughts from the limpid stream.

On the opposite bank a bare hill rises abruptly, its foot being sheer down to the water.   Surrounded by forest the bareness of this elevation is conspicuous, and unless it has been overgrown within the last twenty years, its nakedness makes such a contrast with its border of magnolia as to attract the attention at once.   Covering about twenty acres, the hill was of most symmetrical roundness. The short thick grass covering it added to the impression that it was artificial and involuntarily one looked for the residence to which such a beautiful sweep of lawn was attached.

The Choctaws Life On The River

When LaSalle was pushing his way up through the passes of the Mississippi against the relentless current of that turbid river, this hill on the Bogue Chitto presented a very different scene from what it does now.   The Chatta or Choctaw Indians held undisputed sway over this region, and save when a dash was made by the Alabama from the East, the Natchez from the North or the Attakapas from the West, their life was one of tranquil quiet, varied only by the excitement of the hunt or happy ceremonials of wedding and harvest dances.   A well marked trail led through the forest to the distant Lake Pontchartrain where abundance of fish was to be had and where at stated seasons great festivals were celebrated by the tribe, here congregated from all directions.

The hill itself was dotted with lodges, around which were gathered the men, women and children, horses and dogs of one of the sort powerful sub-trlbes of the Chatta nation.   The site selected was the most advantageous of any for miles around, both as to fertility of the soil and natural means of defense.   The salubrious climate, proximity of all kinds of game and the abundance of pure water and it a favorite spot with the Indians, and when the white man had overrun the country they clung to it long subsequent to thelr desertion of other points.


Chief Ota-Ima

Of all the tribe here resident there was none toward whom such deep reverence was paid as Ota-Ima.   His reckless temerity, gallant dash and wonderful craft in numerous forays had earned for him a reputation we would call nowadays "national," and these characteristics united with a ripe experience and rare judgement made him almost the Idol of the tribe.  

His rule as chief had been marked for its abundance of crops and absence of disaster, so that during his later years his great family looked upon him as something next to supernatural.   If the tribe reverred him, the young men at least idolized his daughter Ulalima, whose beauty tradition says, was so great "one had to shade his eyes with his hand when looking upon her."

Down the vista of the years the story comes to us, with all the vivid coloring of aboriginal poetry, and Ulalima becomes to the lonely Chatta we see in our market place, what some unfortunate Goddess was to the ancients. When she was born the stars did not shine that their light might sparkle in her eyes! Neither did the birds sing in the forest for they gave all their notes to the forming of her voice.


The Birth of Ulalima

    All that day the flowers gave forth no perfume, for this they sacrificed to add sweetness to her breath.  Her mother died whan she was an infant, and reared by an old woman in tha lodge of her father, she became to him the  essence of his existence.   The loss of his mate had created a worship, almost, of the chlld, and her happiness became the only desire of his heart. Withdrawing from the wilder sports of tte field, he devoted his remaining years to this sole reminder of happier days and to the internal government of the tribe.

Then, as now, the seasons followed one another in procession, but looking back to them from the busy, practical present, one cannot but see through the misty distance, something of their pastoral delights and wild splendors. Ths faintest pictures we catch from that far-off time have about them an atmosphere such as tinctures the ether, of poesy itself, and the faintly-heard echoes of those primitive days comes to us in a ryhthm more palpitating than sonorous Alexandrines..

That September Night


The harvest moon never poured forth a richer flood of gold on woodland, lake swamp and river than it did that September night.   The little hill beside the singing Bogue Chitto shone in relief above the deep green of the surrounding forest, and each lodge could be marked in a definite outline in the opulence of such a light.  The wind barely seasoned with a foretaste of autumn, was deliciously cool, and as it had traveled over miles of pine forest, stealing at every step a burden of resinous fragrance, it came to the nostrils refreshing and re-invigorating.

 At the doors of their lodges the more sedate of the tribe sat looking out upon the pleasing picture around them and puffing silently at their pipes.   The doleful bay of some moon-worshiping dog came up now and again from the base of the hill, and as if laughing at the ludicrous attempt at music, the Indian ponies would whinny and neigh.

  On the open ground surrounding the chief's lodge, the children, the youth and maidens were at play.   Above all sounds their shouts could be heard and vying with the liquid music of the river, the laughter of the maidens floated upon ths breeze.   Ulalima just past her eighteenth year, sat a little apart from the happy players applauding the young men as they made desperate sallies to catch one of their number who personated "The Bear."   


At-to-li

   Near her lay At-to-li prone upon ths grass, gazing up into that lovely face apparently lost in the intoxication of her beauty. He was a noted brave and a bold leader whenever there was danger to be met.   He had been married but a year and already the village was acquainted with the infelicity of his matrimonial experience. His wife, contrary to all Chatta precedents, had resolved to be the chief of his lodge, and such was his opposition to this new order of things, he made that abode quite lively at times.

   It had been noted that of late he had spent much of his time with the lovely Ulalama, but such were the rigid laws of the tribe against any violation of Marital obligations no attention was paid to his very natural adoration of the chief's daughter.   As the moon mounted higher in ths heaven the sports of the young people grew less boisterous until at last the remaining few disbanded and retired.

   The fires in front of the lodges had burned down to a few flickening embers, and the village began to look deserted. Here and there a silent figure passing from lodge to lodge, but nearly all had some time since gone to sleep.   Ulalima moved off toward her father's lodge, accompanied part of the way by At-lo-li.   They held a short conversation in an undertone and then separated.   Soon the village was wrapped in slumber.


A Wild Shouting

   Just before dawn there was a wild shouting. In the gathering mist there was a hurrying this way and that throughout the village. On all sides dogs were barking, and filling in ths interstices of sound, the murmur of many voices could be heard. Horses were saddled.  Young men still dozed with sleep rushed out, weapons in hand, thinking of an attack. Women were wailing and striking their heads with open hands in fierce expression of deep sorrow. The gathering about the chief's lodge became greater; even the little children came trouping up.

In all this wild excitement Ota-Ima stood sold, passionless, unmoved.  The blood had left his face and there was a demoniacal gleam of vengeance in his eye. Presently some twenty braves, all well armed and mounted, rode up and formed a semi-circle about their chief. He inspected them for a few minutes in silence, and then in deep husky tones, said, "My sons, the greatest sorrow that can come to a Chatta has fallen upon me. While I was asleep the wolf At-to-li has stolen from my lodge Ulalima, my Ulalima. He has left his wife to rob me of my treasure. You know the law of our nation. See that you spare neither him nor her. Go!"


The Chase Across St. Tammany

There was a clatter of hoofs down the hill, a splashing of water at the ford, and then a sharp vindictive shout in the woods beyond, as  one of the pursuers discovered the footprints of two horses in the soft ground.

The day dawned, the sun passed the meridian, and night fell, but no sign came from the band that had so madly rushed to the chase.   On the second day in a slow trot, one of the most youthful braves descended from the other side of the ford, the pony covered with foam and staggering with its fatigue.   In a few minutes the rider was with the Chief, and the village knew that the guilty had been taken,

Ota-Ima sent for his fastest horse, mounted and soon disappeared down the road, following the direction of the returned herald.   Mile after mile was passed, but still the rider urged his steed onward. At last through the trees the shimmer of water was seen and as he approached it he discerned a group of his braves. He rode up and with the agility of a youth threw himself from the saddle.

  Seated on a log, guarded by a circle of men, sat Ulalima, still beautiful in her wretchedness.   Just beyond, his face buried in the blood-wet grass was the dead body of At-to-li.   The chief did not give even a sign of recognition of his daughter.   Advancing to her side, he touched her on the shoulder and said, "Rise."


The Law of the Fathers

  The trembling girl, summoning all her courage arose, her eyes remaining fixed upon the ground.   The chief drew from his pouch two flat stones which he lay on the ground at his feet.  Then turning to those around he said, "My children, I am about to carry out the law of our fathers. Hereafter will Ulalima be on outcast from an our tribe."

He loosened her raven hair and it fell in raven tresses to her knees. He took one of the stones in each hand. Commencing at the back of the neck he placed a stone beneath a glistening tress and struck sharply with the other stone. With each blow there fell to the ground a long streamer of soft hair, for a single strand of which any one of the braves present would have given up his life. The wind sorrowing in dreary monotone through the pines caught up some of the shiny coils and bore them off only to let them drop into the crystal water of the river.

Not a word was uttered, and still the work went on. Olalima stood unmoved. A hectic flush was on either oheek, and her lips were compressed as if shut in a prayer for forgiveness.   It was not long before the last blow of ths stone had been given, and there remained hanging from her head only the jagged ends of what was once her beautiful tresses. Even in her disfigurement she looked queenly.


Sent Into Exile

The law of ths tribe had been carried out, and hereafter she was an exile to roam the earth apart from her kindred.  Ota-Ima, pointing to the West, told the girl to go. The circle of young men opened and she moved out unmolested.

High above the tall pines over rolling hill, through lonesome swamp, a cry went up such as had never been heard.   It was the wail of a despairing heart, the shriek of a blasted life and even to this day the Indians say they hear it beside this stream.

There was a rustle of her dress, a shadow of her form across the vision and with a bound Ulalima leaped into the river.   No one moved to save her. A motion of the chief inferred restraint and soon the struggles in the water ended, and a lifeless form went drifting down circling in eddies here and shooting forward impetuously in the rapid current there. So from that day the river was named The River of The Falling Hair, Panshi-toula, or as now written, Ponchatoula.


See also:

The Bogue Chitto River

Monday, September 23, 2019

Covington Presbyterian Church

Here is a variety of photographs of the long-established Covington Presbyterian Church. 
















Sunday, September 22, 2019

Oktoberfest 2019

Hundreds of people turned out for the Oktoberfest activities held in downtown Covington Saturday afternoon and evening, enjoying music, food and refreshments. Here are some photographs. Click on them to make them larger. 




The Covington Trailhead was the scene of the event













Oktoberfest was a fund-raising event for the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, which researches bile duct cancer.