They say you learn something new everyday. Once in a while you learn something new that's really extraordinary. And that's exactly what happened recently. Last month Stella Tanoos, our friend and local historian, gave a presentation at the Island Country Club about Louisiana cattle drives.
Now go ahead and admit it. You thought - just like I did - that Texas had a monopoly on big cattle drives. Wasn't every cattle drive movie we ever saw about Texas? And, not to take away from Texas, there was a lot of cattle driving going on there between 1866 and 1890.
But did you know that cattle drives started in Louisiana in 1765 when a fellow named Jean Antoine Bernard Dauterive contracted to supply the newly-arrived Acadians with cattle and land to graze them on?
Louisiana cattlemen used several routes to get their cattle to New Orleans to market. Plaquemine was on one of these routes, and large cattle drives followed along the bayou.
As I type this, I'm looking out the window at Bayou Plaquemine. We've lived on the bayou since 1970. I knew that a railroad once ran across our property. Now I'm thinking that a lot of hooves may have pounded the earth here before the railroad came and went.
By 1881 the cattle drives were pretty much over. By that time cattle were being shipped by train and steamboat. But Louisiana cattle drives spanned over a hundred years (1765-1881) and moved over two million cattle!
Thanks, Stella, for all your research!