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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Over the river and through Mississippi, to Vidalia we go

I've been chomping at the bit to get this post up. My appointment today was a bit unusual in terms of location, and turned out to be really interesting. Through some sort of oversight, I had an appointment scheduled in Vidalia, LA, located in Concordia Parish. I do not usually venture this far north, but after calling the potential client yesterday to make sure it was worthwhile, I decided to make the drive. (Also, I'd be lying if I said my willingness to take the meeting didn't have to do with being able to do a post on this blog, at least in part.)

Vidalia is located on the Mississippi River directly across from Natchez, MS. In fact, roughly 50% of my drive time today was in Mississippi. To get to Vidalia from Baton Rouge, you head straight north on Highway 61 into Mississippi (picture going through the "top of the foot," if you picture Louisiana as a boot), then take a left in Natchez to go over the river.

I was lucky that the gentleman I met with today was something of a Vidalia historian. Vidalia is not big, but it is a cute little town with some old buildings, as you'll see in the photos below. Here's what's really interesting about Vidalia and those buildings... in 1939 the town was picked up and moved. At the time, Vidalia was not protected from the Mississippi by any levee system, but it had grown to the point that flood protection was increasingly important. In a decision that would no doubt be respected by preservationists today, they decided to move all the key buildings (roughly a couple dozen, as I interpreted it) approximately 600 yards west, away from the river.

My "historian" showed me a series of black & white pictures taken during the move. I wish I could share the pictures here, but for obvious reasons I wasn't going to whip out my camera. Sure enough, they just hoisted up a series of buildings onto big trailers, similar to the apparatus you might see today when they move a house. The difference, of course, was that the trucks being used to haul the buildings were 1930s vintage - it really made for some neat photographs. He pointed out that a few of the buildings are still extant. He told me I could find one of them, a drug store, right around the corner. He also pointed out a stately multi-story building in a state of demolition that was, according to him, actually dismantled brick-by-brick and rebuilt in its new location. I recognized the building as one I had seen outside.

I thanked my prospective client for the history lesson, excited to get my camera out and find a few of the places he had described. Photos of Vidalia follow, along with some other photos from the ride...

The building that was dismantled and rebuilt (now a Concordia Parish building - you'll see it says courthouse in the masonry, but the signage outside identifies it as a library):

View of "downtown" Vidalia residential area:

All roads lead to the mighty Mississipp':

The aforementioned drugstore:

Downtown Vidalia:

Twinspan between Natchez and Vidalia:

Riverboat across the river in Natchez:

Vidalia's riverwalk area was very nice. There were some inmates cleaning the area, but I decided it would be in poor taste to photograph them:

My trusty steed contemplating the majesty of the river:

The levee that caused the town to be moved:

Really nice looking residential block with a lovely oak alley:

Back across to Mississippi:

Just outside Natchez, this place is called "Mammy's Cupboard." Eyebrows raised.

A view of Mississippi terrain:

Kinda cool.

Merci beaucoup.


Most of the drive was pretty scenic, I suppose...

On the way between Baton Rouge and Vidalia, you go through St. Francisville, LA. St. Francisville is a wonderful little area with tons of antebellum homes and oak alleys right off Highway 61. It also has a lovely little downtown area. I decided against taking many pictures of St. Francisville today because the Felicianas (St. Francisville is located in West Feliciana Parish) deserve their own entry. But here are a couple photos I could resist taking:

(Wonder what ol' John would think of that last one.)

No other interesting travels expected until late next week, but I'll check back in if anything changes.

1 comment:

  1. That drug store looks pretty modern for 1939..... Seriously, very interesting story and great pics of the area - really captures the culture and lifestyle there very well. When I'm up for some mystery and intrigue, forget the movies, looks like I need to put The Myrtles on my list to visit. As for John, it seems to me bird watching might drive a lot of people to drink.... Good stuff - keep it up!