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Major Crevasses Continue to Plague the German Coast

Levees became major public projects in the late 1800s.

By the turn of the 19th Century, crude levees were in place along the Mississippi River and provided a measure of protection. Individual landowners were responsible for construction and maintenance of the levee system. By the 1830s, states began to be involved with flood control by receiving direct funding and creating levee boards. The boards were then responsible for levee construction and maintenance funded by taxes paid by landowners. However, in spite of all efforts, there was still major flooding, primarily from crevasses. These floods and Civil War devastation caused the levee system to be perilously endangered by the 1870s. Appeals to the federal government intensified. Congress established the Mississippi River Commission in 1879. Federal involvement improved matters but floods and crevasses continued to occur.

The Davis Plantation was the site of the 1884 west bank crevasse in Luling. The plantation was first settled during the Spanish Colonial period. The Davis Crevasse began at 1:00 a.m. on March 8. A rice-flume cut in the old levee was not refilled properly and loose dirt began to wash away. It quickly grew to one thousand feet in width. The residential Davis Drive area and the Davis Fresh Water Diversion now occupy part of this site.

“The crevasses at Davis and Fashion have caused our back country to be submerged to a considerable extent. Surely the railroad companies will not allow these crevasses to remain open.” — St. Charles Herald, March 1884

“Because of Louisiana’s beginnings as a French agrarian colony, it is unique within the Southern experience. It was in South Louisiana that Creole, Anglo, and African traditions blended to create a distinctive New World culture. The River Road is not merely a random slice of the antebellum South, but a rare subculture embedded within it.” — “Louisiana Cultural Vistas,” Richard Sexton, River Road

On June 30, 1870, the steamboat race between the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez VI passed through St. Charles Parish heading for St. Louis, Missouri. Many citizens cheered their favorite from the levee and batture on both sides of the Mississippi River. The Robert E. Lee went on to win. Steamboat races, showboats, and other events on the river were an important part of social activities along the German Coast.

Recorded German Coast Crevasses

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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