1) Sweet potatoes introduced and promoted throughout the area by John Sibille, brought prosperity and made Sunset the largest shipping point for yams in the world during the 1940's and 1950's. In the 1940's,Sunset became known as the "Sweet Potato Capital of the World" having more potatoes shipped from there than any other place in the country. There were 56 shippers, each with their own labels.
2) The Opelousas-Northwestern was the first railroad to be constructed in the Parish. The roadbed was laid in Opelousas about 1850, but the train was never operated. However, Morgans Louisiana and Texas Railroad went into Opelousas in 1882. They were followed by the Opelousas Gulf and Northeastern, which later became part of the Texas and Pacific which ran through Opelousas to Crowley in 1907. In 1909, the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico Railroads extended its route through Opelousas to Texas points.
3) Following the fall of New Orleans, Governor Thomas O. Moore moved the state capitol from Baton Rouge to Opelousas. He set up the state capitol in the home of his friend, Alexander Mouton, on the corner of Grolee and Liberty Street. It was built in 1848. During the Civil War the Louisiana Legislature convened in December of 1862 and January 1863 in Opelousas.
4) Jim Bowie's family owned property south of Opelousas, described
as being south of "Cove of Cork"along today's Hwy. 182 somewhere south of the present day Bank One Branch. His father Rezin raised sugar cane and established a sawmill on Bayou Courtableau. Jim Bowie, at age of 18, owned property on Bayou Boeuf where the northern part of St. Landry Parish meets Evangeline and Avoyelles PArish. There he sawed planks and cut timber which was towed down the bayou toward Opelousas. He had a hunting knife made by a blacksnith named Snowden. In later years, the knife became famous due to his many victorious duels and victims. He died a hero at age 37 at the Battle of the Alamo at San Antonio Texas in March 1836.
5) Situated on 20 secluded acres, Chretien Point Plantation was built in 1831 on the banks of Bayou Bourbeaux by Hypolite Chretien and his wife Felicite. The 12 room brick mansion was the centerpiece of a sprawling cotton plantation. On October 15, 1863, a civil was battle was fought on the Plantation grounds. The Northern Union forces occupied the lower floor of the Chretien mansion and set up camp on the front lawn. Still today, a bullet hole remains in one of the front doors. The interior staircase was copied for Scarlet O'Hara's beloved Plantation home, tara, in Hollywood's immortal epic "Gone With The Wind."
6) In the Colonial Period of old St. Landry Parish, 1796-1812, Martin Donatto was the richest man in the parish identified
as a "gens de couleur libres" free man of color. He served as banker and financier for most of his neighbors, regardless of race. Following his death, his succession records that he owned 5,906 acres of land, cattle and 88 slaves. His holdings included a plantation together with a new cotton mill on Bayou Teche (near present day Leonville) and a "Vacherie" (Cattle ranch) at Bois Mallett (between Opelousas and Eunice) worth $98,620.54, at todays value, that would be over six million dollars.
The town of Washington was a major port for Southwest Louisiana in the 19th century. Construction of the Steamboat Warehouse began in 1819 and was completed around 1823. Steamboats operated from the head of the Courtableau above Washington to New Orleans. The route was down Cortableau into Grand River, then Bayou Plaquemine, the the Mississippi. The steamboat "Warren" made the last round trip in May 1900. The turn around pit can still be seen just east of Washington. The Steamboat Warehouse was restored in 1977 as a restaurant. Located on the banks of Bayou Courtableau, it remains a feast for the eyes and appetite with fine cuisine in a casual atmosphere and ambiance of the past.
7) The Atchafalaya River and swamp serves as the eastern boundry of St. Landry Parish. The small towns of Palmetto, Melville and Krotz Springs historically derive their beginnings relying on the Atchafalaya Swamp
and River. These communities were established because of early occupations which include trapping, fishing, logging, boat building and ferry crossing.
Today this gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin provides thousands of acres of wildlife preserves. Managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, it provides recreations of hunting and fishing and an abundance of wildlife.Artist Anthony (Tony) Wimberly who resides in Church Point, Louisiana, has provided the talent and creativity for this mural. Mr. Wimberly freehanded all of the art work in the mural.