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Friday, March 12, 2010

Lecompte to Port Barre - a Trip Down Highway 71

Occasionally I have to travel up to the Alexandria area on business. Interstate 49 runs north from Lafayette straight up to Alexandria, and is the fastest way. However, on a few occasions I've had the opportunity to ride down Highway 71 (highlighted in red), which runs roughly parallel with the interstate:

In the past, though, I've always been with someone else in the car. Today I had the opportunity to make the drive myself and I brought my camera. Today's tour won't consist of lovely antebellum homes - today is about rural decay.

Before we get to the decay, though, a quick update. In an earlier pie-related post, I mentioned a place called Lea's Lunchroom in Lecompte (aka the "Pie Capital of Louisiana.") I lamented that I didn't have a picture of Lea's. Well, our tour today begins at Leas's:

As I started my drive, I realized that the towns I was passing through were probably at one point part of a major north-south thoroughfare. My assumption is that traffic has diminished significantly over the years due to I-49, thus why these towns all seem so abandoned. This first set of pictures is from Cheneyville:


The next few are from the town of Bunkie. Bunkie was actually fairly busy - so much so that I felt self-conscious stopping and taking pictures. This little town probably warrants it's own visit at some point. There was a stretch along Highway 71 through Bunkie that consisted of a few fast food restaurants, a couple car dealerships, etc., but the downtown area is far more interesting. I should probably mention at this point that railroad tracks follow along Highway 71 the whole length of my journey. (I was hoping for a train-parked-downtown-next-to-abandoned-buildings money shot, but it didn't happen.) I mention this because Bunkie seems to have a "wrong side of the tracks," literally. Hotel on the "right side":

And over on the "wrong side":

In Morrow I slammed on the brakes to take a few pictures of this seemingly abandoned elementary school. I took a peek inside and it looks like it was abandoned fairly recently, based on the litter in the entryway. On a Friday afternoon around the time of dismissal, there was not a soul around.

Another fixer-upper near LeMoyen.

Now for another update. In an earlier post, I told you about the wonderful lunch I had at a place called Stelly's, which is attached to a gas station in Lebeau. I've had the opportunity to eat there again recently, and it was great the second time, too. I snapped a fresh picture of Stelly's today (below). Also, check out this article that ran recently in the Baton Rouge Advocate. Our server, Ledie "Miss Dee" Guidry Wyble, is apparently 87 years old and has been working at Stelly's for 60 years. Amazing. I admit I felt guilty watching her carry a tray of fried chicken over to our table - I should be waiting on her.

That concludes the tour of Highway 71. I thought I'd share a couple more pictures I snapped from the car on the way home. First, rolling over the "old" Huey P. Long bridge, with downtown Baton Rouge and the "new bridge" visible in the distance.

And second, a stop at the legendary Tony's Seafood to pick up a Lent-friendly dinner for the family.

1 comment:

  1. Fellow followers of SOLA, SOLO -- make sure to follow the link to the BTR Advocate story about Miss Ledie. You'll learn lots of other interesting facts. Like how it's illegal to tie your alligator up to a fire hydrant.