Okay, buckaroos, it’s time for a departure from the serious business of Louisiana politics so that we may take a gander at the lighter side of Louisiana geography. I’m doing this with the following disclaimer: way back in high school, more than half-a-century ago, geography was my very least favorite social studies subject at Ruston High School.
Still, while our politics are so, shall we say, interesting, for lack of a more graphic description (this is, after all, a family post), it’s worth noting that our geography may be every bit as erratic, irrational, and completely devoid of any thread of common sense.
For example, the town of Franklinton is nowhere to be found in Franklin Parish. Franklinton is nestled in Washington Parish. But wait! The Town of Washington is in St. Landry Parish. So, where would one find the town of St. Landry? Where else but in Evangeline Parish? But the town of Evangeline is in Acadia Parish. Arcadia, not to be confused with Acadia, is in Bienville Parish. And even the Evangeline Oak is in St. Martin Parish.
It gets better. Vernon is not in Vernon Parish as one might expect; it’s in Jackson Parish. But Jackson is in East Feliciana Parish. Winnsboro is not in Winn Parish; it’s in Franklin Parish but Franklin is in St. Mary Parish. Likewise, Richland isn’t in Richland Parish. Alas, it, too, is in St. Mary.
One might think Madisonville would be in Madison Parish but one would be wrong; it’s in St. Tammany. Likewise, Plaquemine is not in Plaquemines Parish, but in Iberville. Union isn’t in Union Parish but St. James, and Union Hill is in Rapides. The town of Allen is in Natchitoches Parish, not Allen, and Port Allen is in West Baton Rouge. Well then, surely the town of Calcasieu is in Calcasieu Parish, right? Nope. It’s in Rapides. And Claiborne cannot be found in Claiborne Parish, but two parishes away and about 60 miles east, in Ouachita.
Of course, Natchez would be in the Magnolia State, right across the Mississippi River from Vidalia, right? Nope again. You’d have to travel nearly 100 miles due west to Natchitoches Parish to get to Natchez, Louisiana. Likewise, it only makes sense that Lake St. John would be in St. John the Baptist Parish, but it somehow ended up in Concordia Parish.
And Vidalia onions? Forget about it. They’re from Vidalia, Georgia, not Louisiana.
But in Louisiana, we have Winnsboro and Winnfield; Jonesboro and Jonesville; Springhill, Springfield, Spring Ridge, and Spring Creek. We have Summerfield and Summerville; Mandeville and Mansfield; Sun and Sunset. There’s a Start and a Quitman.
Try explaining to a stranger the difference between Pumpkin Center in Tangipahoa Parish and Punkin’ Center in Jackson Parish. Or Dry Creek and Dry Prong. Then there’s Greensburg, Greenwood, and Greenwell Springs; Dixie and Dixie Inn; Grand Cane, Grand Chenier, Grand Couteau, Grand Isle, Grand Prairie, and Grand Lake, for Pete’s sake.
There’s Good Hope and Goodwill; Gibsland and Gibson; Franklin and Franklinton (them again?); Bush and Bueche (yes, they’re pronounced the same); Center Point and Centerville; Forest and Forest Hill; Houma and Homer; Hicks and Hickory; Kelly and Kelleys; Leeville and Leesville; Mire and Mira; Allen and Port Allen; Union, Union Hill, and Unionville.
Only Louisiana would have one Whitehall in LaSalle Parish and another Whitehall in Livingston Parish. And of course, there’s a White Castle to go with the two Whitehalls. There’s also Woodhaven, Woodland, and Woodworth. We have Morgan City and Morganza; Midland and Midway; Martin and St. Martinville, and Sulphur and Port Sulphur.
Just across from the Little Hope Cemetery on LA. 4 in Bienville Parish is the community of Lucky. Next door in Webster Parish, near Minden, there is an exit off I-20. The exit sign directs motorists to “Goodwill Road” and “Ammunition Plant.”
And we don’t have a clue as to how many Oak Groves, Mt. Olives, Sibleys, and Antiochs there are scattered throughout Louisiana. And where in the world is Paincourtville?
If you’re not confused enough at this point, consider this:
Bossier City is not the government seat for Bossier Parish. That’s tucked away a few miles north in Benton. Likewise, Bienville is not the parish seat in Bienville Parish; it’s Arcadia (the same town that’s not in Acadia Parish). The village of Rapides is just up I-49 from the seat of Rapides Parish, Alexandria. Amite is the parish seat in Tangipahoa Parish, not Tangipahoa and St. James is not the seat of St. James Parish. That distinction belongs to Convent.
If, by now, you’re wondering what the point is to all this meaningless drivel, it’s this:
There’s a good reason why we’re last in everything good and first in everything bad in this state.
We don’t even know where the heck we are half the time.