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La Road Tour

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Louisiana: A Guide to the State

[1]A plantation in the Natchitoches region was the scene of Harriet Beecher Stowe ‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is a disputed point whether or not Mrs. Stowe ever visited this part of the State, but a spot at Chopin is pointed out as the actual site of the cabin. Kate Chopin, one of the best known short story writers in America in the nineties, lived for a time at Cloutierville. She is the author of Bayou Folk. Ada Jack Carver wrote stories concerning the “Redbones” of the region, which appeared in Harper’s and Century between 1925 and 1928. Lyle Saxon’s Children of Strangers ( 1937) is a novel dealing with Cane River mulattoes.

Key to Points of Interest

SECTION I

  Tour
1. Rodessa Oil Field 19a
2. Huey House 15a
3. Giddens’ Castle Hill 7b
4. Barksdale Field 18b
5. Site of Caddo Agency House 17b
6. U. S. Pecan Experiment Station 17b
7. Site of Freetown 16
8. Site of Sparta 16
9. Allendale 19b
10. Buena Vista 19b
11. Lands End 19b
12. Rock Chapel 5b
13. Mansfield Battle Park 19b
14. Redbones 16

 1814-louisiana Big Black

On the southern shore of Black Lake live many “Redbones” (Louisiana name for a person of white, Indian, and Negro parentage) who, like the mulattoes of Isle Brevelle (seeTour 17b) live to themselves apart from whites and Negroes. Local traditions vary as to the origin of these people. According to one, they are descendants of early French explorers who intermarried with the Indians; another relates that in the sixteenth century a party of Portuguese sailors, shipwrecked in the Gulf of Mexico, made their way through the wilderness of central Louisiana and settled among friendly Indians. Presumably, these halfbreeds later intermarried with Negroes. Whatever their ancestry, the Redbones are tall and slender, have a reddish complexion, dark eyes, high cheek bones, and straight, black hair. The strange semitransparent appearance of their skin is responsible for their odd sobriquet. Strangers frequently trade and in some instances form friendships with them, but as a whole the group maintains a stoical reserve which cannot be completely broken.

South of Creston La 50 crosses Black Lake Bridge, affording a view of the lake and the surrounding country. Black Lake, and two other near-by lakes, Clear and Saline, are part of the O. K. ALLEN FISH AND GAME PRESERVE, named for the late governor of the State. This preserve comprises an area of 35 square miles and was completed in 1932 with the building of a dam across Saline Bayou.
Tour 17b.

1931 Road Tour through Redbone Country

  • Hagewood–Kisatchie–Junction with US 171; 41.8 m., La 39.

Graveled roadbed.

No accommodations.

  • This route runs south from Hagewood through wooded upland country. For 22 miles the highway winds through the Kisatchie Division of the Kisatchie National Forest. Beyond the forest are bleak cut-over timber lands inhabited by timber workers, small stock farmers, and squatters.
  • La 39, branching south from La 6 (seeTour 17A) at HAGEWOOD, 0 m. (seeTour 17A), meanders through sparsely settled timberland. The simple rough board cottages, built of lumber sawed at one of the local mills, are roofed with heart-pine boards split from native timber. Most of the homes have wells dug by hand and the old custom of “witching for water” is still followed. Before a well is dug the local prognosticator surveys the farm with a willow twig or a peach tree limb to indicate, by the bending of the willow, the exact spot at which a vein or spring of water can be found.

At 6.6 m. La 39 crosses the boundary of the KISATCHIE DIVISION OF THE KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST (build fires in designated fireplaces only; keep grounds clean) (seeTour 15a). In this forest region are stately pines and sandy hills, with occasional outcroppings of sandstone and limestone. Many cold, clear streams flow through rock-walled gorges and over sandstone ledges, forming little rapids and miniature waterfalls. Game is plentiful in the woods; quail, doves, woodcock, some wild turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, deer, and foxes are to be found. Wild honeysuckle, dogwood, wild azaleas, and the climbing yellow jasmine can be seen from February to April; in autumn the red and yellow foliage of oaks, gums, hickories, and maples outline the ridges of the heavily wooded hills. Picnic spots abound.

  • The KISATCHIE OBSERVATION TOWER (open), 19.3 m., is (L) on one of the highest hills in the Kisatchie Forest.

KISATCHIE, 22.3 m. (338 alt., 27 pop.), has (R) a consolidated school that serves a large rural community. The village and the Kisatchie Forest were both named for Kisatchie Creek, which flows cast of the town. In John Sibley’s report from Natchitoches in 1807 this name appeared as Cossachie, which in Choctaw means “reed river.” Left from Kisatchie on unmarked, graveled La 433 to the junction with a dirt road, 1.8 m.; L. here to (R) the KISATCHIE FALLS, 3.4 m. The falls, in reality nothing more than rapids, tumble over limestone and sandstone ledges, their size varying according to the season and the amount of local rainfall. Picnic tables have been erected in a grove of magnolia trees on the banks of the stream. The beauty and quiet of this secluded spot attract visitors from long distances.

  • At 25.9 m. La 39 crosses the southern boundary of the KISATCHIE DIVISION OF THE KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST (see above).

South of KURTHWOOD, 27.7 m. (800 pop.), a sawmill town, La 39 traverses cut-over land. Logging trucks are frequently met on the highway; occasionally an ox team used for skidding or handling logs can be seen. The small houses set at intervals in clearings are generally tenanted by squatters, who are awaiting the day when the second growth of timber will be ready for cutting. In the meantime they get along as best they can, eking out a living from the land and occasionally doing a few days’ work for the lumber companies. Most of the land throughout the area is owned by the large lumber companies, and the squatters are charged 50ç to $1 a year to avoid squatters’ rights being acquired by the tenants. Some of these people have lived so many years under this arrangement that they customarily regard the property they live on as their own. They improve their places by clearing, burning stumps, and by cultivating additional land; the more enterprising erect new farm buildings. Peculiar difficulties have arisen when these tenants have applied for government assistance for farm improvement.

  • Although timber work is the chief source of livelihood, many of the inhabitants supplement their incomes by raising goats and other livestock that graze on the free range amid the pines. This country is ideal for cattle, but incomes from livestock are uncertain because of the presence of the modern cattle rustler, who works by night, with the help of improved highways and modern transportation. Cattle thieves drive their large trucks into the grazing area, find a secluded by-road, load the stock and leave for a distant market. About all the owner can find is the spot where the truck left the highway and some of the tracks of his cattle. At times he finds that his cattle have been slaughtered on the spot, which makes apprehension even more difficult, since there is no tell-tale evidence of brands or other marks. In some sections irate livestock owners have organized in an effort to eliminate this hazard to their business. Sometimes a local resident is suspected of rustling, and lively feuds result.
  • Along the highway in this section are occasional brush arbors, where revival meetings and sometimes regular weekly church meetings are held. The congregations are usually Holiness, Apostolic, or Church of God adherents, although Methodist and Baptist groups also hold services under these arbors.

At 41.8 m. is the junction with US 171 (seeTour 19b), 0.8 mile north of Leesville.

  • Louisiana: A Guide to the State
    Book by Louisiana Writers’ Project; Hastings House, 1941