Reliving Louisiana's Plantation Era

During the early 1800s conspicuously elegant two-story mansions built by wealthy sugar planters stood on plantations lining both sides of the mighty Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Today, most of us are at least a little curious about what this "gracious living" was like in the Deep South of those days.

By the mid 1900s most plantations had been abandoned or ruined, giving way to subdivisions, oil refineries, and other unsightly industry. But a few restorations began then, led in 1920 by this property that came to be known as "Oak Alley Plantation" because of its 28 stately live oak trees carefully laid out in two neat rows stretching from the house to the Mississippi River. If you search the Internet now for "plantation", Oak Alley is one of the first listings that appear.

Oak Alley is a short and easy drive from New Orleans, with interesting tours conducted by enthusiastic guides dressed in period costumes. Mint juleps, gumbo, and pecan pie are available to help you get in the mood. This and a few other restored plantations along Louisiana's River Road provide some interesting insights about southern life before the Civil War.