A Landing a Day

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Winnfield, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on February 3, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2080; A Landing A Day blog post number 508.

Dan –  Incredibly (thanks to today’s landing), I have landed in the same state for the fourth time in my last 16 landings.  This is particularly amazing, considering that this state ranks a measly 29th out of 48  (the lower 48) in size.  Sixteen landings ago, this state was a solid USer.  But today’s landing has turned the tide, and this state now joins the ranks of the OSers.  The new member of the OS club is . . . LA; 36/35 (see what I’m talking about?); 3/10; 150.6.  I’ve now landed in OSers 8 of my last 9 landings . . .

 Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows that I landed just outside of Winnfield:


As you can see, I landed near the Port de Luce Creek.  Here’s a streams-only landing map that shows where the water goes from there:


As you can see, water flows from the Port de Luce to the Sonnett Ck; to a new river for A Landing A Day, the Dugdemona R; on to another new river for me, the Little.  From there (off the above map), we go to the Black R (12th hit); to the Red R (55th hit); to the Atchafalaya (62nd hit).

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:


Backing out a little, here’s the whole town of Winnfield:


Checking out Winnfield, I find that its primary claim to fame involves the famous (and/or infamous, depending on your point of view) Long clan.  That’s right, Winnfield is the hometown of Huey P. Long and his younger brother Earl K. Long. 

 For Huey, I must refer my readers to one of my three recent LA posts, specifically Baton Rouge.  I decided to use that post to feature Huey – heck, if I knew I’d be landing in his hometown, I might have saved it.  Anyway, click HERE to find out all you need to know about Huey P. Long (at least all I think you need to know . . .)

 Here’s a picture (from GE Panoramio by JimeHall) of a Huey P. Long statue in Winnfield:

 pano huey p long statue by jimehall

Moving right along to Earl, I’ll let you know that Winnfield felt like he deserved equal billing (at least as far as statues go).  Here’s a Panoramio shot (also by JimeHall) of the Earl K. Long statue:

 pano earl k long statue by jimehall

From Wiki, about Earl:

 Earl Kemp Long (1895 – 1960) was the Governor of Louisiana for three non-consecutive terms. Long termed himself the “last of the red hot poppas” of politics, referring to his stump-speaking skills.

I’ll take over from Wiki and summarize his career as Lieutenant Governor (LG) and Governor (G):

 1932:                 lost election for LG
1936-1939:      served as LG
1939-1940:      served as G
1944:                  lost election for LG
1948-1952:      served as G
1956-1960:      served as G

Back to Wiki:

In that 1932 defeat, Earl’s older (and more famous) brother, Huey P. Long, Jr., endorsed Earl’s opponent John Fournet, although the rest of the Long family stood with Earl. Huey was the out-going Governor, and soon-to-be-elected U.S. Senator.  The outraged Earl, at thirty-six, called Huey (then 38) “the yellowest physical coward that God had ever let live.” Huey Long said of Earl: “Earl is my brother but he’s crooked. If you live long enough he’ll double cross you.”

 Wow.  Great fun around the table at Thanksgiving dinner, eh?  I wonder what Mom & Dad thought . . .

For those of you who haven’t read my Baton Rouge post (and don’t know much about Huey Long), he was assassinated in the Louisiana State Capitol Building in 1935.

 So, that’s about it for Winnfield.  Not wanting to call it a day, I figured that I’d do a feature on the Atchafalya River.  This landing marks the 55th time I’ve landed in the Atchafalya watershed (the 15th time since I began blogging), but the first time I’ve actually written a piece on the river . . .

 First off, I think it’s a wonderful name.  It just rolls off the tongue:  ah chaf fa LIE ya.  But of real interest is the history of the river, and how we Americans have played a crucial part in the river’s actual essence – its physical nature, identity and fate.

 The following write-up is a combination of words from the Lake Forest College website, Wiki, and me:

 Back in the 10th century A.D., the Red River and the Mississippi River flowed to the Gulf of Mexico on separate, more-or-less parallel courses:

real old

 In the 15th century, a bend in the Mississippi known as Turnbull’s Bend joined the river with the parallel Red River; the flow of the Red River joined the Mississippi and the much smaller river flowing south from Turnbull’s bend became the Atchafalaya.

 15th century

 In the heyday of steamboats along the Mississippi River, it took a boat several hours to travel the bend’s 20 miles. To reduce travel time, Captain Henry M. Shreve, a river engineer and founder of Shreveport, La., dug a canal in 1831 through the neck of Turnbull’s Bend. At the next high water, the Mississippi roared through this channel.


 With the Mississippi River taking a new course, the Red River began emptying into the smaller Atchafalaya River.  Also, Shreve’s cut altered the flow so that Mississippi water and Atchafalaya water flowed back and forth through the lower part of Turnbull’s Bend (the Lower Old River) depending on the season.

Between 1850 and 1950, the percentage of Atchafalaya’s share of the total flow of the two rivers increased from less than 10 percent to about 30 percent. By 1953, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that the Mississippi River could change its course to the Atchafalaya River by 1990 if it were not controlled, since this alternative path to the Gulf of Mexico through the Atchafalaya River is much shorter and steeper.


 Knowing that this process would diminish the Mississippi and every city along the river as well as all commerce up and down the river, in 1964 the Army Corps built a control structure that controls the flow of the two rivers (called the Old River Control Structure). 70% of the water flows through the Mississippi, while 30% flows through the Atchafalaya.


 The Old River Control Structure and both rivers require constant maintenance and upkeep as the Army Corps continues to battle the natural forces at work. A flood in 1973 nearly destroyed the structure; the Atchafalaya was perilously close to receiving the entire flow of the Mississippi.  The structure was repaired and additional improvements made in 1986.

If it weren’t for the Old River Control Structure, the Mississippi River as we know it would not exist. New Orleans and Baton Rouge would lose their geographic significance and source of income, and thousands of American businesses would have to overhaul their practices.

Here’s an aerial photo of the whole control complex, from Wiki:


From my internet perusal, it appears that most experts expect that some day, the Mississippi will gets its way and head down the Atchafalaya.  It’s not a question of “if,” but of “when.”

 I’ll close with this wonderful picture of the Collins family on their farm near Winnfield in 1912 (from RootsWeb.com):

 CollinsfamWinnfieldLAc1912  rootsweb

They should’ve gotten the dog to turn around . . .

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

5 Responses to “Winnfield, Louisiana”

  1. Nash Cheryl said

    Hey Gregoire,
    Great post. You always educate me.
    Regarding the dog——— he was taking the photo.

  2. Nash Cheryl said

    He was in charge of the 10 sec delayed shot. No time to turn.

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