Thursday, December 18, 2014

Visit a Louisiana Plantation and You'll See This...

Oak Alley Plantation
I had the chance to visit Plantation Country this past week. Plantation Country is a region Northwest of New Orleans that has several Plantations strung along the Mississippi River. Some of the Plantations are open for tours and events, but most are private and still in operations (Sugar cane farming). Back in the 18 and 19th century, Plantations owners were near celebrities and very wealthy. Most of the families had lavish lifestyles and had more money than they knew what to do with! This allowed them to build incredible homes that travelers get to tour and appreciate to this day.

During my visit, I went to three different plantations: Laura Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, and Houmas House. Each Plantation has its own unique story and different things to see. Oak Alley Plantation was my first stop. I was met with 200+ year oaks and well manicured grounds. We took a tour of the house and learned about the Roman family, who occupied the home during the 19th century. After the tour, we stopped for lunch and ordered some gumbo, which was absolutely delicious. Before leaving, we met with a civil war historian that gave us some insight about how Oak Alley fared during the war. Due to a corrupt union general, most of the plantations were spared at the cost of being taxed heavily to use shipping ports. Before we left, we made sure to take plenty of photos because it's insane for someone to not take photos of this incredible place!

Laura Plantation was our second stop, which is one of the few original Plantation homes still standing. When I say "Original", I'm talking more so about the architecture. The typical plantation homes you see in modern media are actually not what most plantations looked like in Plantation Country. The Greek architecture was brought to New Orleans from the Northeast as men studied in colleges and brought the ideals back to the region. Laura plantation has a deep French history and their tour guides even offer French speaking tours. The part I enjoyed most about the tour is the basements where the family had a wine distribution business during early 19th century. It was said to be one of the first in the region to distribute fine French wines throughout the South.

My last stop during the trip was at Houmas House. This plantation is notably one of the most lavish of them all with incredible grounds and gardens. I can't imagine the cost of keeping up this place because it's so big. The tour guide was very informative and we learned a great deal about the history of Houmas House. The most interesting fact was that the land was sold by the Houma Indian tribe for only $150 (300,000 acres) in the the late 1700's. We had lunch on-site and the meal was excellent. As always, don't forget to bring a camera or else you are just missing out on some incredible memories.