After leaving New Orleans, LA (Wednesday June 4, 2015) I headed towards Morgan City, LA with a stop at the historic Oak Alley Plantation which is located on River Road (Highway 18) near Vacherie, LA just west of New Orleans.
The history was richly recounted by our guide who told stories about the fate of the handful of owners, including the last one who remained happily on the plantation for over 40 years after her husband passed and is now resting peacefully beneath one of the mighty oaks that adorn this magnificent property.
This palatial house was breathtaking! It was built over a two year period and was completed in 1839. It had fallen into a state of ruin after the Civil War and was restored with impeccable care and attention to detail by the second owners. The tour was brought to life by our guide Jess, who was dressed in period attire and was exceptional in her story telling. The tour also included information provided by a Civil War historian, Andre Jacob, who was on site and gave a passionate overview of the impact the war had on the plantation and its owner at that time.
In addition, there were replications of the sparse quarters that would have been used to house the 100+ slaves who worked on the plantation planting and harvesting the sugar cane, maintaining the livestock and the house.
While in New Orleans, I read that when slaves in the north were sold to plantation owners, many chose to take their lives rather than being sent to New Orleans to work on the plantations. After touring the plantation I understood why. In addition to the risk of contracting malaria and yellow fever, they were often separated from their families, working conditions were brutal, accommodation sparse and the summer heat unbearable.
Here is a video that will provide you with a glimpse of what it was like.
When I left the plantation I felt a part of the South and closer to those who had lived and worked there…and to those who remain.