Monday, September 12, 2022

Abita Springs Pavilion Clean-Up 1972

Keeping the historic Abita Springs Pavilion clear of underbrush and in good condition has been an ongoing community effort for over 100 years. One notable volunteer clean up of the pavilion area took place 50 years ago. 

In 1972 William E. Sorensen wrote an interesting account of that particular effort. The story was made even more interesting by rumors of concealed treasures in the undergrowth around the pavilion. Please take that information with a grain of salt. It may have been a manufactured rumor just to bring in more volunteers to clean up the area. 

Here is the text from the above article:

Springs Cleaned Up by William E. Sorensen

Imbued with interest in their town, an energetic group of average Abitaites are endeavoring to dispel the dismal aura which for a decade has been enshrouding the community's time-hallowed but mistreated Spring Pavilion and its vicinity.

On weekends, a dozen-odd civic-minded volunteers are engaged in gradually transforming the trash-littered, tangled thorny wilderness adjoining the pavilion into a presentable park-like area. With this goal in view, workers brave blazing sun , snakes, mosquitos and poison ivy.

The pavilion was recently returned to its original owner, the town of Abita Springs. Long a ward of the Louisiana State Park Commission, the building and its premises were in 1965 assigned to the St. Tammany Parish School Board. During the spring of 1971, Abita again obtained possession.

Prior to the latter transfer, vandals during the darkness of many nights, were bent on destroying the substantial structure. Senseless vandalism was perpetrated with impunity.

Former Glory

Located where Nature in a bygone era caused a mineral well to gush forth, giving Abita Springs its genesis, the desecrated landmark will eventually be restored to its former popularity--a setting for jovial gatherings, budding romances, and a nook of sentimental remembrance for senior citizens.

Meanwhile, on this particular Saturday, volunteers with naked sweat-streaked torsos are wading in a swampy swale, clearing it of rank jungle growth by wielding machetes and axes. Someone has advanced the suitable suggestion of creating an ornamental lagoon there. displaying aquatic flora.

Elsewhere, vigorous volunteer workers are removing truck loads of chopped down undergrowth and fallen trees, along with piles of trash, the obnoxious sorts which gross "Philistines" throw onto and pollute other peoples' properties.

The project has merely been started. It is a laudable undertaking, worthy of aid from every loyal Abita resident. An enormous amount of work is to be done. Many brawny men are needed to make headway with it.

To help in maintaining the morale of volunteers now devoting their sparetime to the park and pavilion job, one might suggest a barbecue, picnic or fish fry, staged by the administration of the town of Abita Springs or some such agency, seasoned with a sprinkling of whoopee.

Concealed Treasure

Some lucky volunteer worker assisting in landscaping the wildwoods by Abita's pavilion may come upon a long concealed treasure trove. For the interesting book, "Treasure Leads": by Jerry McCarty. in a section about Abita Springs informs us:

" ....Many are the stories and possibilities of hidden money around this old resort town."

McCarty's statement is well substantiated by persistent scuttlebutt in the locality. And it is well known that treasure, gold, silver, and jewelry, were hastily transported and hidden during Civil War times, buried in the woods, sunk into bayous or wells. Most of these were likely recovered.

But in spite of exhaustive searching and digging many were never found. This was mainly due to the fact that some of the men who knew the hiding places perished during the war or during the fever epidemics which formerly harried the Southland.

Hence caches containing money have in the past and relatively recently been discovered in various locations. Those that may have been hidden at Abita Springs are still waiting to be uncovered by an ambitious Abitaite man-jack or woman-jane.

St. Tammany Farmer May 18, 1972

End of Article