Bonnet Carré Spillway

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Bonnet Carré Cravasse
Between 1849 and 1882, the Bonnet Carré Crevasse left a large, fan-shaped imprint on the landscape. (Map from the New Orleans District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brochure on the Bonnet Carré Spillway)

Bonnet Carré Spillway Construction

The Bonnet Carré Spillway is just one element of a comprehensive U.S. Corps of Engineers flood control plan in the Lower Mississippi Valley. The construction of the Bonnet Carré Spillway not only provided employment to thousands of workers but ultimately “put Norco on the map.” Unfortunately, Delhomme, Roseland, Hermitage, and Myrtle Land plantations, as well as many residences and family cemeteries, fell victim to the construction of the spillway. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt paid a visit to the site in April 1937, following an earlier dedication in December of 1935. The design and construction of the spillway was completed in just two and a half years.

Today, the spillway, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers– New Orleans District, remains as it was originally constructed; no significant modifications to the structure have been needed. In addition to its primary purpose, the spillway area is a popular recreation destination for locals and visitors from around the state and nation. Park rangers are on the scene in both a supervisory capacity as well as to provide educational services. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tourist Attraction
The spillway became a tourist attraction.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

In April 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, accompanied by the mayor of New Orleans and Governor Richard Laiche, rode through the streets of Norco on his way to visit the newly dedicated Bonnet Carré Spillway. His open-air vehicle gave all those along the way a chance to see his characteristic broad smile.

The Shell Bulletin reported in its May 3 issue that his route was lined with waving schoolchildren and Norco and vicinity residents.

He kept his hand raised high in greeting. He inspected the spillway project thoroughly, spending fully forty minutes on his tour. He then retraced his route back to New Orleans where thousands waited for him in City Park.

President Roosevelt
President Roosevelt rides through the streets of Norco.
President Parade
A picture from a 1930s Shell Bulletin shows the crowds waiting on the levee for the president.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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