While traveling through the beautiful State of Louisiana, we found ourselves lost in bayou country, down around Morgan City. Having read about the Laurel Valley Village, we decided to take some time and go locate it, hoping to get some good pictures and maybe a story or two about the area. We only had a general idea where it might be located so off we went. The eerie scenes from the movie, Angel Heart (1987) were filmed here so it sounded like a place we would be interested in.
We stayed in the outskirts of a little town of Houma, not far from the town of Thibodaux. That is where our search began. Asking directions wasn't of much value as the locals could not help us much. One little lady in Thibodaux though, pointed us in the right direction and about four miles east from Thibodaux, off of Highway 308, we spotted the abandoned village we'd heard about.
Laurel Valley Village was the site of a 2,000 acre sugar plantation, back in the 1910-1920's. The field hands who worked on the plantation were housed right there, near the huge brick sugar mill. Sugar cane is the major crop in this area and at one time, this plantation processed a tremendous amount of sugar. Not only that but the other side of the sugar mill, from where we stood on the road, there was a portion of the building set aside for making barrels, not only for the sugar, but for the molasses as well. It seems with the onset of progress and more competition in the area, the plantation encountered financial difficulties and went belly up in 1926.
The sugar mill is crumbling away, yet looking at it, we realized it must have been a grand building indeed at the peak time of sugar production. The houses are small with outhouses scattered throughout for the convenience of the residents in those early days. The school building must have served as a church also as a cross remains mounted above the entrance. It was just a one room school that provided education for the many grades of children living in the village at the time. The children learned little English there as the language spoken at the time, was French.
Entrance into the area was free, there is a museum/general store for visitors wanting to stop and learn more about the village. The two original train engines used to haul the sugar cane from other sugar plantations in the area, sit out in front of the museum. There are No Trespassing signs around the village as they are in fragile condition and dangerous for visitors to try to enter. The feelings we got while wandering along the road and shooting pictures of the various buildings, we good feelings. It is said ghosts are abundant out there, but taking almost 100 pictures while visiting during late afternoon, we picked up only one anomalous photo that was too faint to post. It was definitely worth visiting.
We met the son of the foreman who use to work on the plantation, Johnny Thibodaux, who spent more than an hour giving us a history of the place. It seems he was born here and went to the old school which housed five grades. See the first row, second photo of the building with the cross. This old school taught many a field hand during its time. He left but returned to the town named for one of his ancestors.
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