Remembering a different Manchac Swamp

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When you drive down Interstate 55 or along Highway 51 through Manchac, you probably never stop to think about the swamp beside the roadway, you just drive along and take the landscape for granted.

Let’s back up a few thousand years and come forward to the present date. First, you probably wouldn’t recognize the area. The Manchac Pass was very

narrow and the Tickfaw Rives did not empty into Lake Maurepas. It came around and was part of North Pass, which emptied into Lake Pontchartrain. Both lakes were smaller and you could sail from Lake Maurepas into the Mississippi River.

If you looked around, Native American Indians were living all around the waterways. Life was very hard for the American Indians and most of them would die of old age around forty years old.

In 1766, some Spanish

and French settled at the mouth of the Tangipahoa River to raise silkworms and grapes. After several years they found weather conditions would not allow this and gave up. In 1802

the Spanish and French explorers sailed through

the Manchac Pass where they told of large Cypress trees and hanging moss,

of the different kinds of

fish and game and talked of the Indians living in the area.

On April 7, 1863 their ship sailed across Lake Maurepas and got into a gun battle and sank. Also in the 1800’s German immigrants moved upon the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and farmed the land. All these towns were destroyed on September 29, 1915 by a hurricane. In the late 1800’s logging of the giant Cypress began and didn’t stop until all the cypress trees were cut.

At this present time, hunters use the swamp to catch alligators and game. The swamp has supported the American Indians, explorers, adventurers, farming towns, logging towns and hunters for over the past 1000 years.

I think its time to give back and support the swamps that have given us so much. We must support groups like the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Lake Maurepas Society in their efforts to stop litter and pollution. We must all work together to keep it clean, wet and wild!

Artifacts from the Manchac swamp as old as 1000 years are on display at the Louisiana Treasures Museum located on Highway 22 West of Ponchatoula.