Queen City of the Bayou - Mansions, and Sugar

New Iberia Travel Blog

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AIrport tower

We first came to New Iberia in June of 1960 because Bob was stationed here to do the last part of his pilot training with the US Navy for the S2F anti-submarine airplane.

Note: When Bob finished pilot training in Pensacola, he had such a high rating that he was allowed to chose whatever aircraft type he wanted. His instructor there was devastated that he did not choose jets (because that's what he had wanted, and he ended up as a flight instructor instead). The base was closed soon after we left. We went out to the airport to find if there were any remnants left.

At that time, only the US highways were paved.

Current administration building - old school building
We had at least 3 flat tires because the oyster shells that were mixed in with the mud on the roads cut our tires up. We rented an unfurnished house, and had to buy a stove and refrigerator because in that area, a stove and refrigerator didn't come with a house. It was surprising both the number of things that we DID remember and the things that we DID NOT remember from 44 years ago.

We started off for New Iberia where our motel reservation was. The land is very flat and laced with canals and lakes and ponds. We took 310 to US 90, which is on the map and is posted as "Future I-49. Some of it is limited access.

By about noon, we had whistled past Morgan City. I had found a place called Manny's in the AAA book and decided we should eat lunch there so I wanted to turn off of the I-49/US 90 at the exit, but Bob went past it

We got off US 90 in Berwick (across the river from Morgan City) and came back across the old bridge (with a sign saying it was the Allen-Long bridge - in the old days all the bridges were Huey Long or O.

OK Long Bridge
K. Allen. O.K. Allen was Huey's stooge governor because there were term limits. Long spent the off time away being a senator in D.C. Although Governor Allen's initials stood for Oscar Kelly he went by O.K. Which was ironic because he always OKed everything Huey wanted).

We eventually found Mannys, and Bob had a triple decker club sandwich which looked very nice for $5.95. I however went for the buffet which was $10.95. They had a salad table including deviled eggs, a whole seafood and vegetable table which included crawfish fettuccini, crawfish etoffee, shrimp gumbo, fresh greens (with hard boiled eggs), seafood puffs, fried fish and a lot of other things, and another whole table of desserts (coconut pie, lemon and chocolate meringue pies, pecan pie, chocolate cake, white cake, banana cream pie, and strawberry topped sugar free cake.
Carillon organ

Then we went out to see the (free) Brownell Memorial Park carillon.We found it north of town on SR 70, and went into the Visitor's Center. According to the visitor's book, we were the first visitors in 2 days. The carillon is in an 106 foot tower and has 61 bronze bells - it is one of the largest cast-bell carillons in the world. Each of the bells has to be 'tuned' so that they sound not only the main tone, but also the upper and lower tones.

However, when we talked to the guy at the visitor's center and asked him if he sounded the bells from the electronic keyboard behind him, he answered that they are played by something like an organ with foot pedals as well as hand levers and apparently they need someone who is very athletic to do it. They have no one to play the bells now and the quarter hour sounding was done on a tape that they had made of the bells at a time when they did have someone to play them.

Filming "All The Kings Men" remake
The man in the visitor's center apparently walked with canes, and had difficulty speaking - possibly due to cerebral palsy. .

We walked out to the tower (taking note of the map of town as to where various other things I wanted to see were) and then went back to town.

We found Cypress Manor, a 1906 house with a Mardi Gras exhibit and I took a picture, but we didn't go in. Then we came across the 205 Shop that was advertised in the guide I had and I went in and bought a present, which she wrapped for me. I don't know how I will deal with the fact that it is wrapped when we go through security to fly back to Miami.

She told us that they still had the Blessing of the Fleet and they closed the old bridge so people could walk out on it, but it was a much bigger deal now and was for both shrimp AND oil.

Mr Charlie


She asked if we had seen any movie stars from the movie company in town filming "All the Kings Men" But at that time, we had not. We were in search of the "Mr Charlie Rig Museum" (the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition). On the way, we did run into the movie filming folks. The first offshore oil rig that was stationed out of sight of land was 43 miles south of Morgan City in 1947. This museum is the only place where folks can walk aboard an authentic offshore oil rig.

I decided not to try the tour, so we drove back, past the movie set folks again (with a lot of 30's cars standing around in various places We drovedown along the waterfront and saw the dikes and an occasional gate in the dikes. The ICW comes to along the waterfront here. It was hard to take photos of the waterfront without getting out and climbing the wall, so we just went back to the center of town (Federal Street), and I took pictures of the Spirit of Morgan City (an old shrimp boat in the median strip, which has now got a Santa on it and is being "pulled" by two reindeer - how the reindeer do at swimming I don't know).

Foundry in Jeanerette
They also have a model of an oil rig tower in the same location.

We got to New Iberia and down by the river there was a picture time line which showed the nomadic Paleo Indians crossing the Bering straits in 15,000 BC, LaSalle claiming the land for France in 1682, the Indians along the Teche in 1735, the first Africans 1750, and the Arcadians in 1765.

The regular history of European occupation started in 1779 when a group of Spaniards from Malaga founded the town of "Nueva Iberia" on the third great bend of the river. The French referred to the town as "Nouvelle Ibérie" and the English called it "New Town". The legislature resolved the situation in 1847 with the compromise name of New Iberia.

It is the only town in present day Louisiana to be founded by Spaniards during the colonial era.

Our old house
But the site was too small for the number of settlers, and many moved into the area which became called Spanish Lake where they became planters and ranchers. The town area was still confined because most of the land along the river belonged to large plantations such as "Shadows on the Teche". All that remains of what used to extend out to the present day highway I-49/US 90 along Louisiana route 14 is the house, which is now a property of the National Historic Trust.

The time line continued after the founding of New Iberia by the Spanish in 1779 with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and Louisiana becoming a state (the first one from the Louisiana Purchase) in 1812.

Progress in New Iberia has not been smooth sailing. In 1839 there was a yellow fever epidemic. Then the Civil War laid waste to the agricultural progress of the region.
Shadows on the Teche
In 1865 and 1866, Mississippi River floods destroyed much of the cotton, corn, and sugarcane of the region, followed by freezing temperatures and infestation of insects. Again in July 1867 there was another yellow fever epidemic which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

According to "The History of New Iberia" by Glenn Conrad ".. in June 1870, fire broke out in a store on New Iberia's Main Street, resulting in the destruction of approximately one-half of the town's commercial district."

The recovery of the town from these disasters began in late 1879, when the railroad (planned before the Civil War) was built and the first passenger train pulled into New Iberia from New Orleans. Later lines were established to Avery Island and to Houston.
New Evangaline Oak
A new industry was introduced in the 1880s—lumbering of the great virgin cypress forests


Mr. Conrad continues: "It is said that New Iberia produced trainload after trainload of cypress shingles to roof homes in Kansas and Nebraska and supplied homeowners of the Midwest with cypress cisterns."

During the 1880 and 1890s were also established brick manufactuing, founderies, food processing plants, a wagon works (for transporting the cane, and for sale to Hollywood for western movies) and sugar mills. Although Main Street was still unpaved, an interurban trolley line was built to Jeanerette.

On the night of October 10, 1899 at 6 pm, during a great drought, a fire laid waste to nearly one half of the central business district of the town which had been built of wood. Heroic bucket brigades kept the destruction confined to one square block

A last excerpt from The History of New Iberia "The rebuilt stores were constructed of brick with metal roofs and decorative metal facades.
St Martinville
Today many of the buildings built in 1900 still stand, albeit with updated facades. One building, which served as a firebreak because it was constructed of brick and had a metal roof, the Gouguenheim Building, has been recently restored to its original turn-of-the-century appearance
."

 East Main Street between Phillip and Center Streets is a three-quarter-mile long district that more or less follows the course of Bayou Teche as it meanders downstream from the center of town. There are 71 buildings within the district that date between c. 1890 and c.1930. It is on the walking tour of the city.

We arrived in New Iberia on Friday evening from Morgan City.

Saturday morning December 18, 2004, we visited Avery Island, and then went to Jeanerette to try to find our old house.

Avery Island fish
We found it!! Then we had lunch and went to the Jeanerette Sugar Museum, ending up at Shadows on the Teche.

On Sunday December 19th, we went to St. Martinsville to revisit the Arcadian parks and museums.

Monday morning December 20th, we left and drove back to the New Orleans airport, turned the car in and flew back to Miami where we stayed with our daughter until January 7, 2005 when we drove to Titusville FL

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AIrport tower
AIrport tower
Current administration building - …
Current administration building -…
OK Long Bridge
OK Long Bridge
Carillon organ
Carillon organ
Filming All The Kings Men remake
Filming "All The Kings Men" remake
Mr Charlie
Mr Charlie
Foundry in Jeanerette
Foundry in Jeanerette
Our old house
Our old house
Shadows on the Teche
Shadows on the Teche
New Evangaline Oak
New Evangaline Oak
St Martinville
St Martinville
Avery Island fish
Avery Island fish
New Iberia Hotels & Accommodations review
Was Best Western
Best Westerns tend to be somewhat uneven in quality because they are individual motels and not really a chain. This one is a cheap motel - it was t… read entire review
New Iberia
photo by: FrankMcD