Monthly Archives: March 2019

End of the Beginning: Prelude Part VI

Sometime during the age when Greece was creating Western Civilization and Paul and the other Apostles were laying the foundations of a great world religion, ( 400 BC to 100 AD) the Mississippi cut a crevasse at Cannes Brulee (near modern Kenner). Through the crevasse poured the flow that would cut a channel west to east and traverse modern Orleans Parish. This channel would eventually become what the French would call Bayous Tchoupitoulas and Sauvage.

These streams ran along today’s paths of Metairie and Gentilly Roads, creating the high ground of the Metairie and Gentilly Ridges. The ridges in turn created the backbone upon which the roads were built.

During the first millennium AD the two bayous were in reality one long bayou distributing water from the Mississippi into Lake Pontchartrain. They ran through the a long narrow stretch of swamp between the river and lake. There was, however, a peculiarity to this place. Here the river makes its famous crescent U- shape. Into the middle of this U, on either side of the Metairie-Gentilly Ridge would occasionally pour the waters of the flooded Mississippi or a heavy rainstorm or a hurricane.

These occasional floods created shallow, seasonal lakes on both sides of the ridge. The lakes weakened the ridge between them and became the origin of Bayou St. John. As the ridge collapsed, water would course into the lowlands between the original main bayou and the lake, eventually creating the channel that would get deeper as each rainy season passed.

The low areas in the upper middle portion of the U (aka Lakeview and Gentilly) would drain via this channel into the lake. One can see similar hydrographic effects today in Eastern New Orleans toward the mouth of Bayou Sauvage.

By the time Iberville and Bienville arrived, the bayous around the Indian portage were three in number. What had been one became by 1700 three branches of the same watercourse. The “three” bayous –

Metairie (or Tchoupitoulas) Bayou,
Gentilly (or Sauvage) Bayou,
and Bayou St. John

– met where today’s Metairie and Gentilly Ridges meet Bayou St. John at the base of City Park. To speak of bayous running in any direction is a gross exaggeration. They only “run” when something – a river, a rainstorm, or a flood – is pushing them. But, for the sake of clarity, we can say that Bayou St. John ran north into Lake Pontchartrain. Bayou Metairie or Tchoupitoulas ran west to the Tchoupitoulas country on the river in Old Jefferson. Bayou Sauvage or Gentilly ran east into the swamp between river and lake and faded into Lake Pontchartrain somewhere before Chef Menteur Pass. Of the three, only St. John remains. The other two and their levees are now roads – Metairie and Gentilly respectively.

In the seventeenth century, the local Natives made great use of the “three” waterways to travel through the swamps between river and lake, and to fish and hunt along their banks. The bayous brought river and lake together, and the final tie that bound the region into one was the portage. This soggy trail was so important to their colonial efforts that the French authorities gave out eight land grants where the portage and the bayous merged. The ‘village’ and trading post at Bayou St. Jean were established in 1708, fully 10 years before the capital was authorized and begun.

Before the city of New Orleans rose from the swampy ground, Colonial authorities searched for and even nominated several spots to locate a capital which would be able to control the traffic on the river. But it was Bienville who would finally choose the spot – on that portage he and his brother first saw in 1699, where the city would be built.

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The State of the Study

Now that all the “state of’s” for 2019 are done, I thought I would share how all my “professional” endeavours are progressing. We have had the State of the Union, the State of the State, and the State of the City, as well as numerous state of’s anything you care to name. Now approaching my late 60’s, I feel confident in stating that pretty much nothing has changed. Politicians are still crooked. Gun as well as other violence between citizens remains as strong as ever. A year ago I had $400 in the bank, today I have $600 in the bank (at least it didn’t go down). The infamous 1% still controls the vast majority of wealth in the country. But I can still blog and say such things in public – our Constitution – daily threatened by the powers that be, still lets me be free in my speech. So having done with this review of the State Of’s, I present the State of my Study.

The State of the Study shows promise this year. The Second book in the Culinary History series is finished and in the second edit before publication. Research has begun on the third book.

Look For;

A revised webpage for Technical Support Services, Inc. now including info on TSSI Editorial Services- a local editing service for indie and otherwise authors.

A revised webpage for 1718neworleans.com marking events between 1717 – 1722 as the Tricentennial continues to evolve.

New continuing Blogs on the 1718 theme. Including updates and recipes based on Madame Langlois’ Legacy, publication set for midsummer, 2019.

New continuing Blogs on The Classics Blog re; life in the study of a classicist.

Sharing notices on some really good blogs,to wit . . .

raynotbradbury.com – a writer’s blog to end all writer’s blogs;

rarecooking.com Cooking in the Archives; a blog about what the British Americans were doing while we French were planting civilization in the New World;

thehistoricfoodie.wordpress.com, a blog from a practitioner of culinary history;

Notices/blogs etc. about the Bayou Writer’s Club;

and a new blog on the up and coming Hwy 25 Writer’s Group.

Notices and info on TSSI Editorial Services.

Now having set the agenda for 2019, lets see if I have the cahoonies to get it done 🤪 🤓 🧐

BTW, my physical study, the room where all the magic happens, is still a cluttered mess of books, papers, unpaid bills, and mismatched furniture in loving homage to all my professors’ offices throughout my academic career !!!

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tssi copy-editing & proof reading service

Helping You Be A Better Writer

21373 Dutch Rd. Franklinton, LA 70438. 985-795-2372, webmaster@tssi-no.com, 1718neworleans.com

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