Ancient colonial villages sought by heat-images

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Managing Editor

TAFT – For more than 250 years, the existence of the original colonial villages has been a historical fact.

What has been missing is the exact location.

Shifts in the river, crevasses, hurricanes and many other factors have obscured that location, but thermal imaging photography is hoped to solve that mystery at last.

During an aerial tour March 12, thermal-imaging photographers might have located the villages

“It went off pretty good,” said Luling resident John Polk, who is president of the Louisiana Archaeological Society.

An early look at the thermal-imaging photos showed some “anomalies” at the area where historians say one of the villages was located, John Polk of Luling said, and may possibly show Native American settlements as well. Polk is president of the Louisiana Archaeological Society.

Between 150 to 200 German immigrants established the two villages around 1719 under the leadership of Karl D’Arensburg, Polk said. A cemetery ran between the two villages, which were three-fourths of a mile to 1 1/2 miles from the Mississippi River.

After a hurricane swept the villages, a more sophisticated settlement collectively called Karlstein was established.

The Dow-St. Charles Operations chemical plant pledged $3,800 for a flyover with thermal-imaging equipment more than a year ago.

If evidence of the villages is found, Polk and the St. Charles Historical Foundation will contact the state, which they hope would further explore.

Barbara Morris, head of Real Time Thermal Imaging LLC, will review the images and determine what may be found in the fields near Killona, Polk said.

Dr. Jill-Karen Yakubik of Earth Search Inc.added she will likewise analyze the hundreds of images and hopes to conduct exploratory searches in the area. “I hope we can get something,” she commented.