Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Morgan City, LA
The City of Morgan City is conveniently located "right in the middle of everywhere" approximately 70 miles west of New Orleans, 60 miles south of Baton Rouge and 60 miles east of Lafayette on scenic Highway 90. Known worldwide for fishing, hunting and fine Cajun cuisine, Morgan City is the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico for the shrimping and oilfield industries.
MORGAN CITY'S HISTORY
The Attakapas Indians called it Atchafalaya or "long river". Stretching over 135 miles, the Atchafalaya river has been the life line affecting the history and tradition of Morgan City. From its first Attakapas residents to the present day shrimping and oil trade, the river has provided prosperity and opportunity coupled with difficult challenges to many generations. As the tide ebbs and flows along the river, so does Morgan City. The city is a "gumbo" of French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Native and African American heritages blended into a strong belief in faith, tradition and family that define the strength of the city today.
Flood of 1927
Originally known as Tigre Island because of the spotting of an unknown cat there by a group of U.S. surveyors, the area attracted the attention of Kentucky planter and surgeon Walter Brashear. Brashear's subsequent subdividing of his sugar cane plantation was the beginning of the first permanent settlement known as the town of Brashear.
Because of Morgan City's strategic marine location, the town of Brashear played a prominent role in the war between the states. Brashear was occupied by Federal troops for over three years. It was in Morgan City that the Union troops planned the destruction of the Avery Island salt mines, the cutting off of Rebel supply lines from Texas, the capture of Texas to restore her to the Union, and the annihilation of all Confederate resistance in southwest Louisiana. The remains of Fort Starr, a Union fort, are still visible.
Following the war, Charles Morgan, a steamship and railroad entrepreneur, successfully dredged the Atchafalaya Bay Channel and made Brashear his base of operations. As a result, Brashear became a bustling trade center for animal fur, cypress timber, and seafood. In 1876, the town was renamed Morgan City in his honor.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Pharr Chapel Methodist
The late 1800s and early 1900s was an era of growth and development. Many of the historic buildings such as Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Pharr Chapel Methodist as well as distinctive homes including Cotton Top, the Norman-Schreier House, and the Turn-of-the-Century House were constructed. Boat building, moss picking, and a shell crushing plant broadened Morgan City's economic base.
A History of Trinity Episcopal Church
Trinity Episcopal Church of Morgan City, founded in 1874, is one of the oldest "congregations of worship" in eastern Saint Mary Parish. Originally a mission on the Louisiana Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and located in what was then the Town of Brashear, the church grew with the community. Dedicated members and generous benefactors sustained Trinity in its early years and enabled the growing congregation to weather the hardships of the Reconstruction Era, the terrors of yellow fever, and the more mundane crises which inevitably beset any struggling church in the small rural communities of that time. The congregation organized and maintained an active Sunday School during these years.
Morgan City, Shrimp Boats
In 1876, the present church property was purchased for three hundred dollars, which had been raised through donations and "entertainments". A year later, the Bishop of Louisiana encouraged the construction of a schoolhouse, which could also be used for divine services, on the property. The school proved to be particularly beneficial to the community since the public schools had been closed for lack of funds. At the turn of the century, the "shotgun" style building was moved a short distance to the church's present location. A chancel was added, the interior and exterior were refinished, and the church was completely furnished. Native cypress lumber was used extensively with lasting results.
In 1911, the church was remodeled with old St. Andrew's Church in New Orleans as the model for the renovation and the project was funded by generous contributions from Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Methodists, and Jews as well as Episcopalians. A parish house was built in the late 1940's. The rapid development of the offshore oil industry in the Morgan City area in the years following the Second World War enabled the church to expand and flourish.
In 1956, Trinity called its first resident priest, the Reverend James Douglass. The next year, Trinity Episcopal Church was proudly granted a charter by the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana conferring long-desired parish status. In subsequent decades, further improvements and renovations were carried out in the church and the parish house, and the Albert Storm Memorial Rectory was built. Needlepoint cushions, kneelers, and stained glass memorial windows were installed in the church. In keeping with Trinity's emphasis on tradition, a bell was placed in the belfry to call the faithful to worship.
Today, this historic church remains, as ever, dedicated to the Holy Trinity and to the time-honored Anglican Communion.
Substituting the jungles of Africa with the swamps of Morgan City, Hollywood made its mark in 1917 with the filming of the first Tarzan movie starring Elmo Lincoln. This would be the first of several films highlighting Morgan City's diverse landscape.
In 1937, Morgan City became known as the "jumbo" shrimp capitol of the world. A community strongly rooted in Catholicism and tradition, a "blessing of the fleet" was held to insure a safe return and a bountiful harvest. Following the blessing, the celebration traveled to Egle's Place for a fais-do-do, a Cajun dance. This was the inception of the Louisiana Shrimp Festival, the state's oldest chartered harvest festival.
A decade later, Morgan City made national headlines when Kerr-McGee Industries drilled the first successful offshore oil well out of sight of land. According to The Times Picayune, it was the most significant discovery to date. The "black gold rush" marked a new era in the city's prosperity. Because of its considerable importance to the economy, "petroleum" was added to the Louisiana Shrimp Festival. The present day Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival is held every Labor Day weekend in the historic district.
Morgan City's Main Street Program designation was officially recognized in 1997, and combined with the nine-block historic district, it now encompasses a 19- block area.
Just as the Atchafalaya River continually flows, so does Morgan City. Its ebbs have defined its character and have made us a stronger people. A relentless spirit of the people and a strong belief in family, faith, and tradition make Morgan City the place we call home.
Morgan City Aerial View
Morgan City (previously known as Brashear) is a city in St. Martin and St. Mary parishes in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The population was 12,703 at the 2000 census.
The St. Mary Parish portion of Morgan City is part of the Morgan City Micropolitan Statistical Area, while the small St. Martin Parish portion is part of the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Morgan City sits on the banks of the Atchafalaya River. Morgan City was originally called Tiger Island by surveyors appointed by U.S. Secretary of War John Calhoun because of a particular type of wild cat seen in the area. It was later called Brashear City after Walter Brashear, a prominent Kentucky physician who purchased large tracts of land and acquired numerous sugar mills. It was incorporated in 1860 as Brashear City and in 1876, the community's name was changed to Morgan City in tribute to Charles Morgan, rail and steamship magnate who first dredged the Atchafalaya Bay Ship Channel to accommodate ocean-going vessels.
Atchafalaya River delta
The Atchafalaya River is a distributary of the Mississippi and Red rivers, approximately 170 miles (270 km) long, in south central Louisiana in the United States. It is navigable and provides a significant industrial shipping channel for the state of Louisiana, as well as the cultural heart of the Cajun Country. The maintenance of the river as a navigable channel of the Mississippi has been a significant project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over a century.
It is formed near Simmesport at the confluence of the Red River with the Mississippi, where the Mississippi connects to the Red by the 7-mile (11-km) canalized Old River. It receives the water of the Red as well as part of the water of the Mississippi, which itself continues in its main channel to the southeast. It meanders south as a channel of the Mississippi, through extensive levees and floodways, past Morgan City, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico in Atchafalaya Bay approximately 15 miles (25 km) south of Morgan City. The river is now forming a new delta in the bay – the only place on the Louisiana coastline that is gaining ground.
Morgan City, City Hall 1905
On August 26, 1992 Hurricane Andrew came ashore 20 miles to the southwest of town. Andrew was the second most destructive hurricane in U.S. History, after having crossed Florida and then regaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico.
Notable natives and residents
Bill Burgo (1988) baseball player.
Charles deGravelles (1913-2008), Louisiana State Republican chairman from 1968-1972
Eddie Dyer (b.October 11, 1899) Major League Baseball player, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.
Sid Gautreaux (1980) baseball player.
Bishop Sam Seamans - United Episcopal Church of North America
Mark Millet - football coach
Morgan City, formerly Brashear City, is the gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin. Morgan City was originally called Tiger Island by surveyors appointed by U.S. Secretary of War John Calhoun because of a particular type of wild cat seen in the area. It was later called Brashear City after Walter Brashear, a prominent Kentucky physician who purchased large tracts of land and acquired numerous sugar mills. During the Civil War, Brashear’s strategic location at the mouth of the Atchafalaya made it one of the focal points of the campaign in the region. In 1876, Brashear City was renamed Morgan City in honor of Charles Morgan, a steamship magnate who successfully dredged the Atchafalaya Bay. The dredging allowed the city to become a booming port, which set the pattern for future growth as a trade center.
The Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico have always been the economic lifeblood of Morgan City. Commercial fishing, particularly shrimping in the Gulf, has provided for generations of Morgan City natives. The natural resources of the Atchafalaya Basin have also been a major contributor to the local economy. The Atchafalaya Basin is over 800,000 acres. It covers one third of the state of Louisiana and is the largest overflow swamp in the United States. The Basin is home to countless species of fish and wildlife. The natural beauty of the Atchafalaya Basin at Morgan City was chosen as the site for filming the first Tarzan movie in 1917, which starred Elmo Lincoln.
Old Elks Lodge
In the last 50 years, the offshore petroleum industry has become a major sector of the economy. In 1947, Morgan City gained national recognition when Kerr-McGee produced the first offshore oil well out of sight of land.
Providing genuine home-style cooked meals, prepared by cooks with over a total of 57 years of experience in food preparation:
(Rita Noel - Manager)
(Harry Lee Turner - 10 years)
We're sorry that alcoholic beverages are not sold on the premises; however we try to maintain a nice, cozy, and respectable environment for you, the customer.
Thank you for your business
May God Bless You!
DINE IN - DINE OUT
711 FEDERAL AVENUE
MORGAN CITY, LA 70380
AWAY FROM HOME!
OPEN MONDAY THRU SATURDAY - 8:00 A.M. TO 10:00 P.M.
SUNDAYS - 8:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M.
2008 Shrimp & Petroleum Festival King & Queen
When it comes to matters of tradition, no single day in the event-filled weekend can equal the historical significance of Sunday. The keeping of these Sunday customs create a link between the humble origin of the festival in 1936 and the mammoth celebration into which it has grown.
It all began over 70 years ago, when the placid port at Morgan City and Berwick received the first boatload of jumbo shrimp, fresh from the deepest waters ever fished by a small boat. The very first celebration was held, appropriately on Labor Day, when members of the local unit of Gulf Coast Seafood Producers & Trappers Association, in recognition of the holiday, staged a friendly labor demonstration that has come to be known as the first festival. There were frog and alligator hunters, shrimpers, crab fishermen, dock workers and oystermen parading in the streets. Of course, it was not the grand procession that it is today, but it was the first street parade nonetheless.
In 1937, Paul Acklen LeBlanc, chairman of the festival committee, spearheaded the first Blessing of the Fleet upon Berwick Bay. The Blessing was held to ask that God's graces be bestowed upon the fishermen and their sturdy craft.
1967 will always be remembered as a landmark year for the festival. This is the year that a marriage of shrimp and oil took place that would forever change the face of the festival. By this time, the petroleum industry had firmly implanted its roots into the area economy. The Festival was then known by its present-day name, the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. Despite the annexation of oil into its title, the festival was proud to be allowed to retain its seniority as the oldest state chartered harvest festival in Louisiana.
Now...the Festival recognizes the working men and women of both the seafood and petroleum industries, which are the economic lifeblood of the area. The Festival has been honoring those who work tirelessly through rain and shine...and sometimes even hurricanes...to provide the areas economic lifeblood for over half a century. The festival also emphasizes the unique way in which these two seemingly different industries work hand-in-hand culturally and environmentally in our area. It is designed in such a way that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can enjoy and participate in festival events.
The present day Blessing of the Fleet and water parade highlights participating shrimp boats, pleasure craft and the biggest "muscle boats" of the oilpatch. Not to be missed is the toast between the King's Vessel and the Queen's Vessel - a breathtaking bow-to-bow "kiss" for the traditional champagne toast. Yes, it is a unique name...in fact, the festival was once honored with just that title..."The Most Unusual Name"...and...we are a unique place and unique people.
There's nothing like "home-style" Cajun cooking, and you'll find the best at the fest....lots of spicy treats at the Cajun Culinary Classic....from jambalaya to fried alligator & everything in between! And of course.....SHRIMP (tons of 'em) cooked every way imaginable (It would make Forrest Gump proud!)
For information regarding food booth operation, please call (985) 385-0703.
Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival 73rd Queen
Christie Orlando 19 year old daughter of Don and Julie Orlando
Orlando attended Central Catholic High School and is presently attending Nicholls State University pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Nursing.
Miss Orlando enjoys exercising, swimming, boating and spending time with her family. She is also a sports enthusiast.
While attending Central Catholic, Miss Orlando participated and won numerous athletic awards in Basketball, Softball and Track. Her two most prestigious awards are the “Nicole Chaisson Sportsmanship Award” and the “Central Catholic Eagle Award” given to outstanding female athletes.