Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Atchafalaya River and The Last Domino

The Paragon Casino RV Resort (El. 100 ft); Marksville, Louisiana

All pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 Cell Phone
(click pictures to enlarge)

It was early afternoon when I arrived in Marksville. The campground is very nice with full hookups and level concrete pads. It is only about 10% full which is always an extra benefit. This is a Passport America campground and since I've been a member ever since I hit the road, I saved 50% on the cost of my campsite. For the 4 nights that I will be camped here, I saved $60.00. The annual fee is only $45.00 so I recoup my fee dozens of time over throughout the year. But it is like any other similar program, you have to be careful because there have been some dumpy Passport America campgrounds that I've turned down, but I'm still an advocate.
Paragon Casino RV Resort

The Paragon is an Indian Casino and the tribe is the Tunica-Biloxi. I'm not very familiar with either one and was not motivated to find out about them. I definitely am not a gambler but since I was here, I decided to check the slots out. I joined their "player's club" program so they could keep track of my activities in their casino. hmmm?,They also gave me $10.00 on the card as a welcoming present. The catch was I had to play the first dollar using my own money.
Sprawling Oaks in front of campground
I slid my card into the first $1.00 machine I saw with the intent of using up the $10.00 quickly. Surprise, surprise, the new kid won $12.00 dollars immediately. After that I wandered around the casino playing various quarter slots and doing lots of people watching until I lost the winnings I had from their $10.00. As I was leaving I was thinking, I did pretty good and didn't lose anything. Then it struck that they got that first dollar from me. So as with most people leaving the casino, I was leaving as a loser. Oh well, I guess everyone can't be a winner.  

The warm weather has the flowers blooming in early February. 

This one tree was the only one left standing in this very large field. I wonder why it was saved from the saw. Was it the site of picnics in the past, of shade during plowing or harvesting or simply because it looked nice. I guess we will never know for sure.

My reason for coming here was to check out the Old River Control Structures which are located at the intersection of the Red, Atchafalaya and Mississippi Rivers. I guess I should give my non-Louisiana friends the pronunciation of that strange word in the previous sentence. It is pronounced, "a-chaff-a-lie-a", with the "a's" being short a's. For some of ya'll younger readers, you may need to ask a more seasoned person what a short "a" is since I'm not sure it is taught in school now a days. Lots of people think the name, Atchafalaya, is cajun but it is actual an Indian name. More specifically, a Choctaw Indian name meaning "long river". Obviously, the Choctaw must have been including the Red and Mississippi Rivers in their definition of long, since the current Atchafalaya is only about 135 miles in length. In fact, until about 500 to 600 years ago, it didn't even exist. It came into existence when the Mighty Mississippi created a giant bend, called Turnbull's Bend, going to the west which intersected the Red River as it was peacefully flowing to the Gulf of Mexico on its own. When that happened, the Red River flowed into the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya flowed out of the Mississippi. 

Everything was hunky-dory until the early 1800's when steamboat traffic became so important. To create a short-cut, our old hero from the removal of the Great Raft of the Red River, Captain Henry Shreve, cut a canal across Turnbulls Bend in 1831. That wasn't bad enough, but he also removed another raft of logs on the Atchafalaya River that increased its speed making that river deeper and wider. As it grew deeper and steeper, it was gradually becoming the quickest path to the Gulf of Mexico and more and more water was leaving the Mississippi and going to the Gulf by way of the Atchafalaya. Ut oh, that wasn't good. It meant that towns like Baton Rouge and New Orleans and all of the industry in between could be left high and dry or maybe just a stream instead of a river.

Enter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to save the day. They constructed what collectively is called the Old River Control Structure Complex. The first of these structures came online in the early 1960's and regulated the amount of water that would be allowed to go down the Mississippi (70%) and the Atchafalaya (30%). That split wasn't scientifically determined, it was simple the approximate amount in 1950.
Northern Structure

After completion, everyone pounded their chests and said what a wonderful job they had done and that they knew how to control mother nature. 
The locks connecting all of the rivers. 

The repeated heavy floods of the 1970's nearly destroyed the control structures and if it hadn't been for the great work of the Corp, all would have been lost and that last domino would have fallen. They made temporary repairs which held up well.

Another structure was added to the complex in the early 1980's and was called the Auxiliary Structure.
The Auxiliary Structure
My father was the Project Superintendent on that project. It was his last project before retiring. He was working on that project when I graduated from college and began my career with the highway department. Yesterday, I drove over that structure and it was as if the circle was completed.

Flooding along the Mississippi River

Riding the levee while checking out
the flooding.

Even during high water, barge traffic continues on the river.
 For you conspiracy buffs out there, I did see something unusual as I was driving on some of the back roads while going to the river. The route I took was a very large, 130 mile circle. I saw 4, dark, unmarked, multi-passenger vans with clear windows and at least six to eight men in each van. Each man was sitting straight up and wearing sunglasses. The vans were equally spaced, about 200 feet apart. Lucky for me, they were approaching me instead of me passing them. I've never seen anything like that before and in the middle of nowhere in the back roads of Louisiana to boot. Strange. Very strange.

Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading to a campground a little south of Lafayette, Louisiana. I will do some exploring and visit with my sister. It is suppose to freeze tonight with lows down to 26 degrees. I don't anticipate anything freezing up but I'll be cautious.     

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. Insert twilight zone or x files music here!!! Have fun!

  2. Now I know why you sent me a message asking if long and short vowels are still taught. Young children shouldn't have to ask a "seasoned" person. :) It is still being taught. I did learn something from your post. I thought Atchafalaya was cajun.

    1. Glad to know it is still being taught, I thought it may have went away like penmanship. Lol

  3. Hi Darrell, In addition to Passport America, have you ever checked into the federal Senior Pass? $10.00 for a lifetime pass, can be used in most all federal campsites allowing half priced camping, also gets you into National Parks free (still have discounted camping fees to pay). We have used this numerous times and it has more than paid for itself. As long as you're 62 or older, you can purchase the pass. Great bargain. Suzette

    1. Hello Suzette, I am aware of the Senior Pass but I still need to mellow (age) for another 2 years before I will be eligible. I hope I'm still traveling at that time so I can get one. Ya'll be safe out there, Cya down the road.