This is an excerpt and a chart from an 1979 article about recreational dwellings in Louisiana that is available online from the LSUAgCenter and Sea Grant. While it was intended as a reference about coastal Louisiana dwellings in 1979, it is also a historical reflection of the Sportsmans Paradise. In 1979 there were over 10,000 camps in Louisiana.
Author: Don L. Gary & D. W. Davis
# Pages: 80
Human activity in Louisiana’s coastal marshes was studied to clarify location, density, and type of impact on local ecology. Historical background provides information to contrast with the study findings.
Copy available online from the National Sea Grant Library.
Download: http://nsgl.gso.uri.edu/lsu/lsut79002.pdf (1.79MB)
“French farmers, trappers, and fishermen, whom the British forced out of Nova Scotia in the mid 1790’s, settled within the lower Mississippi River’s alluvial valley. They regarded the semi aqueous terrain as an attractive location for their new settlements. In addition to the French, a group of Yugoslavian oyster fishermen settled along the bayous, bays, and lakes southeast of New Orleans. In time they were joined by other Balkan immigrants. Filipinos, Germans, Irishmen, Italian, Spaniards, and others also settled within the coastal zone. People began to occupy the deltaic plain in the 1830’s and the chenier plain in the 1850’s. By the mid 1930’s there were 325 marsh communities. In the relatively isolated chenier plain 20 or more dwellings were located in 15 towns. On the deltaic plain there were 21 sites accomodating more than 20 dwellings. These pre-Word War II cammunities fit into four categories: agricultural, fishing, petroleum, and trapping.”
“Today former marsh dwellers or their descendants use their former homes as trapping base camps and recreation centers. The marsh has also appealed to many outsiders. These two groups have built 8,516 camps, with more than 40 percent of them accesible only by boat or seaplane. The original agricultrual, fishing, hunting and trapping villages have been transformed. They no longer serve as permanent settlements; they have changed from work to leisure oriented communites.”
As early as the 1780’s the island was occupied by several sugarcane plantations. Toward the turn of the 19th century the Grand Isle area became a pirate stronghold and trade center for contraband goods destined for New Orleans.”