It’s no longer the King of Cotton or the same fertile delta , because now Oil is King is the state mantra. I don’t know the statistics on the cancer rate in this beautiful area along River Road, but when you see an oil refinery, next to a sugar or rice plantation, it does give one more than a pause of what is going into the food supply. In certain areas as you drive from New Orleans up River Road you can almost forget that the Industrial Revolution controlled the area or that the oil industry dominates the area now. Evergreen Plantation is now owned by the heiress to Standard Oil, but at least she restored and preserved it. The oil refineries are the new Plantation…. this is the new South.
One can gain a sense just how important the Mississippi River is and all that comes down it, to supply the world with its products, when you take this drive up to Baton Rouge on River Road. You see all the industries interwoven with beautiful plantations, oil refineries, and grain shafts leading to barges. Its a shame you can’t walk on the levees and look at the River anymore, but protection from floods as they are now is the trade off.
Driving around there for the most part felt like time had come to a standstill. I became lost in the rich layers of history. It is still lush and the sugar cane was high and swaying in the breeze. Its far from perfect, but it is real, and it has retained its unique culture, which is as rich as its fertile soil.