— Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail —
The width of Bayou Courtableau at the Town of Washington was too narrow to maintain steamboat operations until a turning basin was completed in 1848, allowing steamboats to reverse course and head back downstream.
Originally called the Opelousas River, Bayou Courtableau’s name was changed to honor the memory of Jacques Courtableau, a wealthy and influential landowner. The bayou was historically connected to the Atchafalaya River but today receives up to 1,040 cubic feet per second of fresh water from the Atchafalaya via the Teche-Vermilion Pumping Station in Krotz Springs. Bayou Courtableau flows through the towns of Washington and Port Barre, where it feeds into Bayou Teche.
Steamboat transportation arrived in western Louisiana in the early 1800s. Ocean-going boats that traversed the Atlantic between New Orleans and Europe were too large to safely navigate the bayous and rivers of the Atchafalaya Basin, so smaller, shallow draft vessels were constructed and quickly became the primary means of carrying cargo and passengers throughout the lower part of the Basin. This heyday lasted for more than 50 years, with boats transporting
As the number of steamboats grew and the frequency of their visits increased, small villages, towns and cities along the bayous developed into trading and population centers. The width of Bayou Courtableau at the town of Washington was originally too narrow to maintain steam craft operations until Captain George W. Haygood completed a turning basin in 1848, allowing the boats to reverse course and head back downstream. Goods were then brought south by raft or barge and transferred to steamboats at the turning basin. These boats typically carried passengers in apartments in the top portion of the vessel and commodities for sale in the lower cargo or hold area.
In 1896 the Southern Pacific Railroad was extended through Opelousas, and many Washington residents moved to that city as it grew. The last steamboat departed the downtown wharf in 1900, falling victim to the success of the railroad system throughout the U.S.
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This site’s geology/geomorphology: Pleistocene meander-belt deposits of Mississippi River blanketed by Peoria Loess
Erected by State of Louisiana and National Park Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic
Location. 30° 36.912′ N, 92° 3.202′ W. Marker is in Washington, Louisiana, in St. Landry Parish. Marker is at the intersection of St. Landry Veterans Memorial Highway (State Highway 103) and Water Street, on the right when traveling north on St. Landry Veterans Memorial Highway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 529 St Landry Veterans Memorial Hwy, Washington LA 70589, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Plaisance School (approx. 4.7 miles away); Opelousas Catholic School (approx. 5.2 miles away); St. Landry Catholic Church (approx. 5.2 miles away); Lt. Fr. Joseph "Verbis" Lafleur (approx. 5.2 miles away); a different marker also named St. Landry Catholic Church (approx. 5.2 miles away); St. Landry Catholic Cemetery (approx. 5.3 miles away); Black Academy At Mt. Olive Baptist Church (approx. 5.3 miles away); Louisiana Memorial Methodist Church (approx. 5.8 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on February 23, 2018. It was originally submitted on February 22, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 142 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 22, 2018.