Monday, June 15, 2020

Tourism Bonanza Mid-1980's

When the World's Fair came to New Orleans in 1984, parishes throughout the state braced for an onslaught of tourists from around the country and from around the world.

Every part of the state ramped up its tourism promotion and visitor/hospitality efforts, especially St. Tammany Parish. At the beginning of the year, St. Tammany ranked 9th in the state for parishes seeing more than a million dollars being spent on travel-related state taxes.

Since many people were going to be passing through Slidell on their way to the World's Fair, a number of pamphlets and promotional items were printed up and distributed out of the tourist welcome centers on Interstate 10 and Interstate 59. Demand for the informational pamphlets was high, so even more were produced and distributed in 1985, 1986 and 1987. St. Tammany was becoming a destination tourist location of its own.

Here are some of the tourism brochures of the time:

Click on the images to make them larger.

Here is some of the text from those 1987 tourist information pamphlets about St. Tammany Parish:


Large shell mounds, Indian artifacts, abundant wild life, and artesian springs, indicate that St. Tammany Parish was a happy hunting ground long before recorded history. The Spanish, French and English took turns using the pine tar, cypress lumber, and brick clay for building their empires. The deep rivers, slow bayous and swamp have supported ship builders, pirates, and lake schooners since the early 18th Century.

Altogether 10 flags have flown over the area with little bloodshed. Known as "British West Florida" the English settled here before the American Revolution. The name 'Tammany' represents a Delaware Indian adopted by Eastern revolutionaries (Tammany Hall) - the `Parish' is an old Spanish ecclesiastical district term. The French legal tradition has been followed since Bienville and his band of explorers first camped here in the early 1700's.

During early years the inlets and bayous were favorite hideouts for pirates and outlaw bands who terrorized ships in the Gulf. The Honey Island Swamp sheltered Pierre Ramaux (the 'King of Honey Island') and his band.

Where the Tchefuncte River enters Lake Pontchartrain one finds the beginning of the Natchez Trace. Flatboats floated goods down the Mississippi to New Orleans - the crews took the overland route home by way of Madisonville.

There were many engagements during the Civil War. Trade was interrupted, gunboats scuttled in the river. Slowly schooner traffic resumed in the 1880's and St. Tammany's clear pine air and healthful artesian springs became attractive to city dwellers as an escape from the dreaded yellow fever.

FORT PIKE—Located to guard the entry into Lake Pontchartrain. Built In 1819 on the site of an earlier French bastion.

HONEY ISLAND SWAMP—Home of legendary outlaws and "Bigfoot" monster stories. A nature trail is maintained for photographers and bird watchers.

NATIONAL SPACE TECHNOLOGY LABORATORIES—Originally a rocket testing center for Lunar Landing program; presently involved in Space Shuttle and Earth Science.

OLD JAIL—On First St., Slidell - dates from 1860's

OUR LADY OF LOURDES SHRINE—in Lacombe. Built by Fr. Francois Balay over a spring to commemorate vision of St. Bernadette. .

ABITA SPRINGS PAVILION—and Park. Built in 1888 on site of Indian medicinal springs. Listed on National Register of Historic Places.

CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH—Estab­lished 1846 in Covington. Dedicated by Bishop Leonidas Polk who was later killed fighting for the Confederacy in 1864. Contains 8 of the 10 flags which have flown over the Parish.

ST. JOSEPH'S ABBEY—off Hwy. 25 - a Benedictine monastery. The Chapel and Refectory contain frescoes by Fr. Dom Gregory deWit.

LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN CAUSEWAY-24 miles long making it the longest bridge in the world. A major route to New Orleans and beyond.

Slidell Area

The Slidell area was of particular interest because of the three interstates that crossed paths there.

Swamp Sights Make a Novel Side Trip

A visit to Honey Island Swamp makes an interesting side trip for visitors to the city who are looking for something unusual to do.

The swamp is about 40 miles northeast of New Orleans via Interstate 10 East. The tours depart from Indian Village Landing on the West Pearl River, five miles east of Slidell.

Honey Island Swamp is a semiwilderness with towering cypress trees and abundant wildlife, including alligators, deer, wild hogs, black bear, bald eagles, nutria, beaver, owls, wood duck and other migratory birds.

Tours are given by Paul Wagner, owner of Honey Island Swamp Tours. Wagner also is a wetlands ecologist with 12 years' experience as an environmental consultant in South Louisiana swamps.

Wagner, along with Robbie Charbonnet, a lifetime resident of the area who has explored the swamp since childhood, provide the tours aboard comfortable Coast Guard flatboats.

These boats are 20 or 24 feet long with a combined capacity of 36 persons. The boats allow tour members access into the harder‑to-reach small bayous and  sloughs in the interiors of the swamp.

Members are encouraged to bring along their cameras and binoculars. The tour operator also provides van transportation from New Orleans hotels to and from the Indian Village Landing on the West Pearl River, the tour departure point.

Reservations are required for the tours. While in the area, tour members can also enjoy dinner at a quaint seafood restaurant called Indian Village Catfish. Its specialties include fried catfish, gumbo, crabs, alligator and shrimp.