Life on the Mississippi River – Part One

Day 954

     Because of the recent heavy rains, we again walked the levee of the Mississippi River across from our campground. The river is 12 feet above it’s normal level. Controlled by 3 gates, this dumpster would normally be on dry land.

     In the early 1900’s this portion of the river was the slowest and most shallow, because of the bend in the river at this point. I was surprised that the Mississippi was not a straight river, as it appears on maps. Actually, it winds around and around. Here, at Convent, you could walk across the mile wide river. At that time a rope was strung across the river and for 1 cent you and your horse could walk from shore to shore. 25 cents if you had a wagon. 

     Plantations grew up along River Road, which provided transport to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Today, you see a plantation, then a factory, a plantation, then a factory. These are no small factories, covering 30 acres or more. Next to the plantation we are staying is a fertilizer factory. After the next plantation is a coal shipping factory. Coal is brought in by trains and transferred to barges. 

     If there are 2 houses together and a church, that is a town. Convent is the Parish Seat because there are 4 houses, a church, and a courthouse. 

     Fact, fiction, or plain bull crap. You never really know. We have now traveled around the Country for 954 days. I document in this Blog where we have been, what we have done, and the history of places we stayed and visited. I rely on the local townspeople to supply this information. 

     We are staying for the month of May at Poché Plantation in Convent, Louisiana. I retold the history of Judge Poché and the Plantation House and grounds as told to us by the campground manager, who was our tour guide. 

     Today, we took another tour of the Plantation House, this time our guide was the owner and lifelong resident on the Mississippi River, Mark Anderson. His family has grown sugar cane here for generations

     Mark, himself is an amazing guy. At a young age he invented and patented a mold for making cement pathways that he sold for a profit. He owned over 28 local newspapers around the country, which he ultimately sold. He is a national foosball champion. He owned a string of muffler shops. He has developed a number of RV parks, and owns several historic buildings that he is renovating for public display. On April 29, 2013 he won $70,000 (after taxes) in the Louisiana Scratch-off lottery. 

     He originally went to the auction of the Poché Plantation House to buy a rug for his RV. They auctioned off all the contents of the house, and moved on to the house itself. No one put in a bid, the price kept dropping until Anderson said it was a steal. 

     In giving us a tour of the house he told us what I suspected in tours of other mansions we have seen. On Day 946 our tour guide told us since the contents were auctioned off prior to the sale to Anderson, he acquired furnishings for the house from the same era, 1800’s. Anderson informed us every single item in the house he got at an auction, cheap sale, or donation. For example, this chandelier in the dining room he saw for sale for $85,000, but he bought this one on e-bay for less then $10.00.

     This cabinet he purchased at an auction after Katrina for $200.00, which was an amazing price for this beautiful artwork. A short time afterwards the police arrived looking for items stolen from houses after the storm. Evidently they were not able to confirm if it in fact was stolen. 

     He acquired beautiful red wood lumber from Brazil that came to the US, but the entry fee was not paid. He got a good deal and then had craftsman David Oubre make this tester bed. 

     You might ask, why is there a cross on the bed? The answer is, to cover a hole in the covering. 

     He informed us some of the rugs in the house he purchased on QVC. A short time after he restored this property, he had a party for those in the area to put together the history of the Plantation. He found that the stories he was making up were far more interesting. 

   

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