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Fred's Stores and Locks ... Morgan City Rails Plus

My name is Fred. Steve told me to salvage the tail end of several old writes he had on this satelite blog and chunk them here. The beginnings of these writes were casualties of a temper tantrum he had and they got blew up. He said I could rewrite those if I wanted. I told him he was nutz. What's below are his ramblings about some wheres along the road, you read it, I don't cuz I can't get into his "all about me" trash, pompous butt face. I'll do anything to get fired and go on that 2 1/2 year unemployment. Party Time. Oh, the links to the next pages don't work. You'll have to manually go on using the Table of Contents list. This is all temporary since he's taping up the sticks of dynamite right now. Whoa, looks like a great 2.5 years a coming.

Welcome to the private viewing portion of the website. You are here because you filled out the required paperwork which granted you temporary membership. On with the ride.

On the last page, Bob had yelled that the train was coming, then he disappeared.

Then, by some electronic phenomenon, I started receiving signals from the train's forward mounted camera which probably feeds its "little black box".

As quickly as the camera had picked up the signal, it was gone. I continued snapping away in hopes that it would return.

The bridge popped up almost immediately after the last car had cleared.

Bob had gone into the store for a beer. He evidently thought that he had time.

Here's looking at the bridge from what was probably Bob's perspective.

I told him I'd take him over to Morgan City.

Next is a little catch up page. (My name is Fred, they might still work but then you'll be lost in his manure maze)
This will be a catch up page as the write has been moving rather quickly. While we are here on the Berwick side of the river, I'm going to spotlight the area a little more as Bert Berry, the owner of many of the following old post cards, asked me to. This will a disconnected display of old scenes and some new ones.

This old light house was seen when Al and I stopped on Front Street.

Could it be this one?

This is looking from the south up the river. You can see the Morgan City water tower on the right.

Berwick was served by the T&NO Railroad.

We'll cross the old "K" type bridge and come into Paterson on Brashear Avenue, old US.90. The famous old shrimp boat has been there forever. I remember it from my parent's trips in the mid 50's.

If you want to get a better handle on Sugarcane Alley, READ THIS It is a ride I took to Morgan City and then up the bayou a bit. I think you'll enjoy it. Then come back here.

Bert Berry's postcards can be viewed HERE.

As we crossed the old US 90 bridge, waves of memories came flowing in. Haha.


Al and I have done a bit of reflecting on our picture taking in Morgan City. He admits to not taking enough shots because he is not in tune to being a cub photographer, yet. I didn't take many because, I guess, I didn't have the "fascination" edge that day. I was intent on finding the Confederate fort and I'd done all of this before. So, end result is that not many pictures were taken. I'll link you back to that old ride to the point where Morgan City was covered pretty well. We actually went into the seafood shop which reminded me so much of New Orleans. The black and white pictures (not the postcards), well, most of them, that you've seen so far, were shot at that shop. Cool place. That later. And, it's on Railroad Avenue. Here are some shots on Front St. and near the courthouse. Our tracks are the yellow line.

I'll start at the courthouse, not exactly our progression, but it works best here.

Some might think that Morgan City was named after Morgan the pirate. That assumption might originate from its past reputation as a frontier town. That's as kind as I can get. That reputation did not originate with its original citizens, but with the influx of the oil industry. I believe there is an old James Stewart movie which is based on Morgan City's first days as an "oil town". Where I will show you next, you did not go unless you were proficient with a gun or knife, because stuff happened.

This is Morgan City's First Street. Front Street, I believe, is on the river side of the seawall. You can ride through the gates and get great shots of the river front. I'll have to find some of the legends of this area and post them.

The neighborhood around the courthouse is quite pretty. There is a beautiful park just down the road. The place has the feeling of an old town on the Gulf or maybe that's just me.

An old bank building is across the street. It is named "Bank Building", no doubt foreshadowing the future of the banking industry where, nowadays, banks change names as quickly as days.

The last reincarnation was the CNB.

Catty cornered from the Courthouse is this neat little sidewalk cafe. The skyline is a constant reminder of Morgan City's proximity to big water.

The massive Post Office Building sits across the street.

Next, we'd head for Railroad Avenue.

Here is another of Bert's postcards depicting the railroad's use in the vicinity of Morgan City.

New page will be at the Civil War battlefield. You can review the old Morgan City write by CLICKING HERE. Be sure to go to continue to the next page in that write.

This blows my skirt up, so you'll have to bare with me. Many believe that nothing happened during the Civil War in Louisiana. They would be wrong.

The Battle of Brashear City [Found at THIS WEBSITE]

The only remaining Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi were at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Port Hudson, approximately 20 miles north of Baton Rouge, had been invested by Union forces under command of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks since May 22, 1863. The longest military siege on the North American continent had begun. If Port Hudson fell to the Federals, total Union control of the River would be one step closer to reality.

In order to divert Union attention away from Port Hudson, Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor planned an offensive into the Lafourche district. The district, which included the parishes southwest of New Orleans and south of the Mississippi, had been occupied by Union forces since late October, 1862. Many of the Union troops had been diverted to Port Hudson in May, 1863 when the siege of that Confederate strong-hold began.

If Taylor could reoccupy the Lafourche district, he could then threaten New Orleans and force Banks to divert his army at Port Hudson, in order to protect the Union occupied Crescent City.

Taylor's plans called for a 2-prong invasion of the Lafourche district. His primary mission was to seize control of Brashear City (present day Morgan City), and the capture of the large military stores within the village. With that accomplished, Taylor could then threaten New Orleans.

Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton, with Taylor, attacked and captured the Union garrison at Brashear City on June 24th, by way of the Teche Country. To cut off the Union retreat, Col. James P. Major, leading an all Texas cavalry brigade traveled down the west bank of the Mississippi to Donaldsonville. He then traveled down Bayou Lafourche to Thibodaux where a small Union garrison was captured on June 20th.

To occupy the Union's attention away form Brashear City, a detachment of Texas Cavalry from Major's brigade attacked a Union position at Lafourche Crossing on June 21-22. The battle ended in a Union victory, but it served the Confederate purpose by keeping Union forces from reinforcing Brashear City.

The Confederates successfully captured Brashear City from the small Union garrison. Along with the town, they also captured approximately $2 million of Union supplies.

[Remember, this is in the language of the day]

The following Battle Report comes from the Official Records of the Battle of Brashear:

"Report of Maj. Sherod Hunter, Baylor's (Texas) Cavalry, commanding Mosquito Fleet, of the capture of Brashear City.
BRASHEAR CITY, June 26, 1863

GENERAL: I have the honor to report to you the result of the expedition placed under my command by your order June 20. In obedience to your order, I embarked my command, 325 strong, on the evening of June 22, at the mouth of Bayou Teche, in forty-eight skiffs and flats, collected for that purpose. Proceeding up the Atchafalaya into Grand Lake, I halted, and muffled oars and again struck, and, after a steady pull of about eight hours, reached the shore in the rear of Brashear City. Here, owing to the swampy nature of the country, we were delayed some time in finding a landing place; but at length succeeded, and about sunrise commenced to disembark my troops, the men wading out in water from 2 to 3 feet deep to the shore, shoving their boats into deep water as they left them. Thus cutting off all means of retreat, we could only fight and win. We were again delayed here a short time in finding a road, but succeeded at length in finding a trail that led us by a circuitous route through a palmetto swamp, some 2 miles across, through which I could only move in single file.

About 5:30 we reached open ground in the rear of and in full view of Brashear City, about 800 yards distant. I here halted the command, and, after resting a few minutes, again moved on, under cover of a skirt of timber, until within 400 yards of the enemy's position, where I formed my men in order of battle. Finding myself discovered by the enemy, I determined to charge at once , and dividing my command into two columns, ordered the left (composed of Captains [J.P.] Clough, of [Thomas] Green's regiment, [Fifth Texas Cavalry]; [W. A.] McDade, of Waller's battalion; [J.T.] Hamilton, of [L.C.] Roundtree's battalion, and [J.D.] Blair, of Second Louisiana Cavalry) to charge the fort and camp below and to the left of the depot, and the right (composed of Captains [James H.] Price, [D. C.] Carrington, and [R.P.] Boyce, all of [G.W.] Baylor's Texas cavalry) to charge the fort and the sugar-house above and on the right of the depot; both columns to concentrate at the railroad buildings, at which point the enemy were posted in force and under good cover, each column having nearly the same distance to move, and would arrive simultaneously at the point of concentration. Everything being in readiness, the command was given, and the troops moved on with a yell. Being in full view, we were subjected to a heavy fire from the forts above and below, the gun at the sugar-house, and the gunboats below town, but, owing to the rapidity of our movements, it had but little effect.

The forts made but a feeble resistance, and each column pressed on to the point of concentration, carrying everything before them. At the depot the fighting was severe, but of short duration, the enemy surrendering the town. My loss is 3 killed and 18 wounded; that of the enemy, 46 killed, 40 wounded, and about 1,300 prisoners. We have captured eleven 24 and 32 pounder siege guns; 2500 stand of small-arms (Enfield and Burnside rifles), and immense quantities of quartermaster's, commissary, and ordnance stores, some 2,000 negroes, and between 200 and 300 wagons and tents. I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry and good conduct of the officers and men under my command. All did their whole duty, and deserve alike equal credit from our country for our glorious and signal victory. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SHEROD HUNTER, Major, Baylor's (Texas) Cavalry, Commanding Mosquito Fleet. Brig. Gen. Alfred Mouton, Commanding South Red River"
Al has wondered how many boats it took. That answers that. What I had not realized was the connection with the Siege of Port Hudson, led by the talented General Banks.

The ride was going well. On my last visit, I had tried to find the fort but had not been successful. A reader told me that I had been close. I promised myself that I'd find it this time even if it meant asking directions. Atop the rail crossing, I flagged down these two guys in a pickup. They, realizing who they were talking to, were very careful, slow and precise in their description, and in a loud voice obviously meant for the geriatric, yelled, "two blocks thataway".

We rode the two blocks thataway and found what I expected after 146 years.

It was obvious that the Confederate Navy, Mosquito Fleet, had done a thorough job.

There was an added attraction, an old church, but not that old.

Atkinson Memorial Presbyterian Chruch
I think the start up date was 1915. I can't find any more.

Al had never rung a bell before.

After discussing the battle to the point of complete understanding, we did a reenactment. Al said I had to be the Yankees. He doesn't like loosing and my loosing seemed to square my account, being in debt since Larroque's.

Bloodied and taken prisoner, I led the triumphant Col.Alphonso de LaSalle Esq. to our next stop, the seafood shop. That will be on the next page.

Al just wrote:

Col. Alphonso says he is not pleased with the way you blocked him out, no one can see his beautiful locks, but he's glad you let him be on the winning "Rebel" side so he is not mad enough to want to WYA again,...Col.Alphonso de LaSalle Aid de Camp.

Here's the seafood shop, Patterson, locks, and Garden City pictures:

After leaving Fort Star, we headed to the seafood shop. No one was in there but the owners. He was working on some project and she was busy on a laptop.

She wasn't very talkative but I finally wormed from her the reason why this store reminded me of what I remember as the classic New Orleans neighborhood store of my youth. An Italian couple had owned it. The template may not be of New Orleans, but Italy? Duh. She said they had owned it for 17 years and had tried to keep it as they had bought it. Very proud. I wished them luck.

Inside, don't come in if you don't love the Saints. OK, fake it, it's worth the effort.

Gator Poboy

Stuff everywhere.

Here's a link to a previous visit, Click Here.

We left the store, me expressing that I was tired. Al suggest that I take off 5 of my 9 t-shirts since it was almost 80F. We rode straight out US 90 touching Patterson on its new big road exposure. Here are a few shots from the old Patterson. Then we'll visit the Calumet locks and Garden City and more. It was a full day.

My guess is that Bayou Teche supported Patterson's shrimping industry before the "new" locks. Paterson had a Southern Pacific depot and another, the T&NO. (Texas and New Orleans?) A lead to where the stations might have been is that there is a Railroad Ave. I read somewhere, maybe Bert Berry's site, the source of these pictures, that one of the depots had been moved several times.

Next, Al and I did a wheelie and slid down US 90 to stop at the historical marker for the Battle of Camp Bisland, not to be confused with the Battle of Bisland at Fort Star.

Read this: From Here

BATTLES OF BISLAND - April 12-13, 1863 and
IRISH BEND or NERSON’S WOODS - April 14, 1863

To trap Taylor’s army, Banks choose to divide his force. Brig. Gen. William H. Emory, the overall commander of the first wing, took his 3rd Division with Weitzel’s 2nd Brigade of Maj. Gen. Christopher Augur’s 1st Division (~ 10,000 men) and crossed Berwick Bay at Brashear City. Ten miles west of Berwick City (now Berwick), Emory confronted Taylor at his campsite and fortified position near Thomas Bisland’s Fairfax Plantation (location of the Calumet Spillway and La. State Hwy 90 intersection). Defending Camp Bisland, Taylor positioned 3,000 men divided equally along both banks of Bayou Teche (Calumet Spillway cuts through Bayou Teche). Brigadier General Mouton defended the left descending bank, while Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley from Texas defended the right.
For two days, April 12-13, Union forces tried in vain to break the stubborn Confederate resolve at Camp Bisland. A Confederate retreat from Camp Bisland was ordered only after Taylor became aware of Banks’ scheme to flank them by way of Grand Lake.

While Emory fought at Camp Bisland, Banks’ second wing boarded troop transports at Brashear City and steamed west into Grand Lake (at the time the lake – starting at Brashear City – roughly paralleled Bayou Teche). Under command of Brigadier General Cuvier Grover (~ 8,000 men), his 4th Division was ordered by Banks to flank Taylor’s army by way of Grand Lake and get to the rear of the Confederates near Franklin before Taylor realized his entrapment.

When Grover’s troop transports were spotted in the lake by Confederate patrols, Taylor ordered an evacuation of Camp Bisland during the night of April 13. Confederate forces at Franklin quickly moved into Nerson’s Woods at the base of so-called “Irish Bend,” a horseshoe bend in Bayou Teche, to prevent Grover from closing the Confederate escape route.

Taylor, at the Battle of Irish Bend or Nerson’s Woods (April 14), succeeded in stopping Grover’s attempt to get to the rear of his army. As a result, Taylor was able to escape capture and continue his orderly retreat northwest along Bayou Teche. Banks’ failed attempt at capturing Taylor’s army at Franklin resulted in an expanding offensive through the Teche region, which in the long run accomplished nothing for the Union, other than driving Taylor’s army away from the Lafourche region’s western borders. Though Taylor eventually retreated beyond Alexandria, he was never annihilated as Banks desired.

Union 40 killed, 184 wounded
Confederate - unknown, but probably less
Irish Bend or Nerson’s Woods
Union 49 killed, 274 wounded, 30 missing or captured
Confederate - unknown, but probably less


The lock master said that there are still people that come to look for artifacts.

After stopping at the marker, we both did another wheelie and exited US 90. I wanted to show Al the locks. Again, timing would be right on. Here are some pictures taken of the structure. Across the Wax Lake Outlet is the twin lock on the Calumet side of the Teche.

Looking east:

Looking across the big cut that is the Wax Lake Outlet. It was cut to relieve pressure on Morgan City.

This is looking upstream on the Teche. Water was being let out of the WL Outlet into the Teche causing it to flow backwards to the next outlet, speculation. The fishermen were there to take advantage of that flow.

As I returned from taking my shots, this large man rushed up to me and before I could speak, started in. "You are on federal property. I must confiscate your film".

That totally twisted me, knowing that my digital camera did not hold film. I though about bolting from the scene but feared being shot. I handed him the camera as he roared into boisterous laughter.

I haven't asked Al, but I think he was in on it. I told you that he is vindictive. We had a great visit learning a lot. He and I had used the same swimming pool as kids in Shreveport. His first father in law was a pilot with Penzoil United, the same company my father worked with. Al sat there wondering why he couldn't say that his grandma was a Fontenot. Why, he is under threat that I will leave him lost if he does.

He said that this is the real Teche. The cuts for the locks were manmade.

Looking toward the bridge, this is my favorite shot. Al didn't like it cause I did. He's also hateful.

Next we were off to Garden City. I wanted to end the ride at one more store. This one is almost on a plain with Martin's. The owner is only 80. You would think 60, maybe.

Garden City was born of the cypress logging era. It was a beautiful installation. The architecture was of Dutch design. Mr. Hanson owned the company.

Here are the old shots and one or two new ones. The old ones are from Bert's collection.

Next door to the store is the second headquarters of the Hanson Lumber Co. These pictures were used in the 60's era epic, Easy Rider. We have been on the route they took.

It had been the location of the post office back then.

The ladies, as always, were a pleasure to visit with. They love to talk about the history of the area. See them soon. Of course, I said that 3 years ago in fear of things "changing". As the elder owner said. "That was a time when men were men and women were women". Obviously. She also warned us to ride while we could because our new President will raise gas prices so high that no one will be able to tour. She might have added that she came from a time when "people were smart" as well as her implied "tough".

Here's the link for to a previous visit to Garden City. CLICK HERE

While there I'd wondered about Garden City having a depot. This map seems to show that there was a siding that reached to the Teche near town.

New Information:
A fella who seems familiar the mill towns had this to offer. I will change it up a little so you'll understand what he was replying tol.

Thanks for the write up. The postcards are
fascinating. I was looking at the one for Garden City,
with your captions about it being built due to cypress
logging. If that town was a "company town" then
everybody must have got rich off cypress logging

[I've talked about visiting Cass, West Virginia and riding an old train there.]

When you visit Cass, you will see a good example of a
company town. Very few exist anymore. Company built
homes to house the workers & their families, and
typically there was a company store that sold items to
the families. Many companies paid in script (funny
money good only at the company store) which forced
workers to buy from company store. Between the
monopoly of the co. store and rent on the homes, the
company pretty much owned the workers. Hey, that's the
way it often was back then. I'm sure there were
exceptions where the company was more generous.

Reason I mention this historical tidbit is that the
houses in the postcard look mighty good for homes that
housed workers. I suspect the homes in the postcard
were used by the upper management at the mill, and
maybe the company doctor, etc. The smaller houses that
the workers used may have been farther away and not
visible in the photo. Just speculating here...

........Based on what I have learned
(Cass,& other research) the lumberjacks did not
necessarily live in the company town. They usually
were from all over, stayed in bunkhouses either near
the mill or more likely, out at the job site. The
company houses at the mill town were normally used by
those working in the sawmill. The logging operation
and the sawmill were 2 different things, though may
have been handled by the same company.

The crew at the sawmill would consist of management,
office staff, crew foremen, guys working the millpond,
guys that ran the different saws, guys that did
nothing but sharpen the blades, guys that loaded cut
lumber for shipment, and the crew who fueled &
maintained the huge steam engine that ran everything
in the mill and often provided electrical power for
the town. (I may have overlooked some jobs.) So a mill
would require quite a number of workers, especially in the
good old days before computers and automaton took over
much of the grunt work. These employees would live in
the company town. I think the company town concept
kind of died out after WWII when most everyone was
getting a car and could live where they wanted, and
drive to work.

[I think I had seen some rail cars in the mill picture.]

Hard to tell from the pix if those are railroad cars
but it's quite probable. Finished lumber was shipped
either by water or by rail, and I would expect rail
more likely than water for the 1900-1960 decades.
Earlier decades might have been a tossup as the river
steamboats and the railroads were duking it out for
shipping business.

Me: Thanks Mr.V

Seeing my alluding to the Garden City store, earlier, Jacques wrote this:

Steve, that's great. I didn't know there was even a marker for the site where the fighting took place.[speaking of the battle at Fort Star]

The old store in GC [Garden City] is great. I haven't been in that place since the late 70s or early 80s. I remember stopping for a pop there on my way back from N.O. when I was in college. I had a '54 Chevrolet 1/2 ton p.u. truck. It was a real rust bucket but was in great mechanical shape. I still marvel at my parents letting me drive that old truck to the city...45 mph all the way. I had a flat one Sunday afternoon down the road from that store in Verdunville. It started to rain and the lever that I was using to operate the bumper jack broke. It was a short piece of re-bar. I had a 4 way lug wrench to get the wheel off. I was in front of an old closed down filling station. I changed the tire and continued to the city with no spare. I didn't worry about much back then. It took me about a week of pricing a tire repair. They were still fixing flats at home for one dollar. I finally found a place that would do the work for about $2.00, I think. It was at a station on one of the tree streets in Carrollton near the Ave. It was a one horse outfit...a little bitty place. The owner/operator had his name proudly displayed over the door leading to the office. It read, "George Bellman, Owner". I bought gas from Mr. Bellman often, $5.00 or less at a time. He even lent me some tools for me to perform a little surgery on the old truck once. I always liked those little stations. At home they were a great gathering place and we always liked the smell of the gas.

ME: Another good story from Jacques.
That closes this one out. Whew!