Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain

Excerpt

As its founders and many subsequent generations know it, New Orleans was located on an island. Iberville's historic voyage of discovery in canoes accounted for this. Since you could mount the Mississippi from the Gulf to the entrance of the Bayou Manchac, then pass through the Bayou and the Amite River to the lakes and the Gulf once more, the land wedged between those boundaries was actually an island. It was so described in treaties signed by France and Spain. But in a more limited sense the site on the narrow strip with the river on the right hand and the lake on the left appeared insular. You could come down the Bayou St. Jean from Pontchartrain, and at other points to north and south you could turn into bayous from the Mississippi and reach Pontchartrain after an easy portage. So the land in the immediate vicinity of the town was commonly referred to as the Island of Orleans.

Bienville began his work of building with some fifty men, of whom twenty-five were ex-convicts, and soon complained in his diary that he was "grieved to see so few persons engaged in a task which requires at least a hundred times the number." He had scarcely cleared a few arpents of cypress forest and canebrake, and erected barracks on ground which he calculated to be ten feet above sea level and safe from floods, when the Mississippi rose and inundated his settlement to a depth of from six to twelve inches. He promptly postponed everything else to throw up the first levee along the water front and dig a drainage ditch at the rear of his site. Thus New Orleans' eternal problem--the struggle against the encroachments of water--was faced from the start. How serious the matter of drainage was may be judged from the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.