"Queen City of the Bayou - Mansions, and Sugar" Top 5 Page for this destination New Iberia by grandmaR
New Iberia Travel Guide: 39 reviews and 112 photos
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. 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.
The time line pictured shows 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. 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 continues 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. 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. 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. 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."
This is the only picture I took of East Main Street between Phillip and Center Streets which 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. 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
A friend of mine and her sister-in-law and I visited St. Martinsville one afternoon. Bob didn't go so the first time he... more travel advice
One of the little excursions we made was to a mansion in Franklin Louisiana called Oaklawn. At the time we visited,... more travel advice
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