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New Orleans is Louisiana’s most famous—and most haunted—travel destination. But travel up the Mississippi River and farther west and you’ll find lesser-known ghost towns with equally iconic (and chilling) stories. Here are the stories of Roberts Cove, Torras, Morrisonville, and Bayou Corne, alongside travel tips for reaching them.
Keep in mind, just as ghost towns have been left to the elements, the roads leading to them might be in disrepair.
On that note, Jerry can keep your car protected with the right car insurance as you explore off the beaten path to see some of the best ghost towns in Louisiana.
What is the story of Roberts Cove?
West of Lafayette in central-south Louisiana lies a chunk of land originally owned by Benjamin Roberts, who had purchased it from the Spaniards. The planned settlement of Roberts Cove was named for him.
A German Catholic priest named Leonard Thevis decided to make the area a haven and spiritual community for immigrants from his native area of Geilenkirchen-Hengesburg. A friend had asked him to come to minister to New Orleans in 1867, and after being in the area a while (around 1880), he decided to found his own community farther west.
Around 175 families eventually settled in the Roberts Cove area, practicing rice farming and carrying on German cultural traditions in an overwhelmingly French Acadian area. A Benedictine parish was established in 1885, but the planned monastery was never built.
No shocking tragedy befell Roberts Cove—but the town ceased to exist as many of the families assimilated into the wider community of Acadia Parish.
Some of the families still live in the area, with the St. Leo IV parish serving as the community’s focal point.
What makes Roberts Cove special?
You can find the following attractions in the Acadia Parish area:
- The Roberts Cove Germanfest happens in October each year to carry on the legacy of the original German families in the area.
- The historic Crowley Rice Theater, named for the area’s dominant rice farming industry and decorated in Art Deco Style, is open for tours by appointment. You can catch a movie or musical performance, too.
How to visit Roberts Cove
You’ll need directions to the town of Rayne if you want to see the land of Roberts Cove up close. It’s 25 minutes from Lafayette via I-10 W. Here, you’ll find Roberts Cove Road and a German heritage museum.
The best way to experience Roberts Cove is by attending the Germanfest the first weekend of October. Attractions include traditional dancers, blacksmithing and antique farming demonstrations, and, of course, bratwurst and beer on tap.
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What is the story of Torras?
In 1902, Barcelonian immigrant Joseph Torras bought old plantation land in Red River Landing. Since there were three rivers and a railroad in the immediate area, Torras’ new settlement was expected to become a major shipping area—but fate would have it otherwise.
Just 10 years after Torras’ purchase, in 1912 the Mississippi River flooded, wreaking havoc on the town. The town survived and was rebuilt but was destroyed again in the Great Flood of 1927.
The town held out hope and started to recover, but within a few years, the main railroad company in the area relocated, taking away the town’s main income with it. Residents were forced to leave—and surprisingly, no physical markers of Torras remain today.
What makes Torras special?
There are no physical markers of Torras left, so it truly gives the impression that the town was deleted from history.
Even so, there are some charming activities to do in the surrounding Pointe Coupee Parish area:
- Go antiquing along the Antiques Trail to find some unique collectibles or take a tour of an old house in one of Louisiana’s oldest areas.
- Look for Louisiana black bears, wood ducks, and more creatures at Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge—a prime winter habitat for thousands of migratory birds.
- Drive an hour west from Red River landing to visit the city of Alexandria for riverfront dining, art museums, and central Louisiana’s #1 zoo.
How to visit Torras
There are no physical markers left of Torras, but you can still enjoy the nature around the sleepy Red River Landing. Take US Hwy 190 W and LA-1 N for just over an hour. You’ll pass St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Angola Ferry landing before you reach where Torras was.
Part of LA-15 goes over Lower Old River, and the Old River Lock still operates to allow drivers and boats to take turns passing through.
What is the story of Morrisonville?
Morrisonville in Iberville Parish was founded by freed slaves around the 1870s. Accordingly, it was always considered a special historical area—but it would go down in history as a ghost town for a completely different reason.
Unfortunately for Morrisonville, the 85 miles between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is now the home of 75 of the largest industrial plants in the United States. In the mid-1900s, Dow Chemical was rapidly expanding and began producing vinyl chloride in the area in 1958.
By the 1980s, this carcinogenic compound was leaching into the city’s wells, posing a massive public health hazard. Dow Chemical bought out all of Morrisonville and paid to relocate all of the city’s residents (it was either this or have a massive lawsuit on their hands).
Since 1990, all that is left of this historic settlement is a historic marker and the Nazarene Baptist cemetery.
What makes Morrisonville special?
Today, you can do the following in the surrounding Iberville Parish area:
- Visit the Morrisonville Historical Marker, which details the town’s history and was dedicated in 2004.
- Visit the National Hansen's Disease Museum, a unique museum where curious minds can learn about the nation’s history in interpreting and treating leprosy.
- Walk the Plaquemine Waterfront Trail to see the river Torras residents relied on for shipping and livelihood.
How to visit Morrisonville
Start in Baton Rouge and head south on LA-1 for 20 minutes to reach Morrisonville.
Keep in mind, this area is still generally inhabited and many residents have been dealing with the negative health consequences of close proximity to chemical plants—meaning the crisis is still ongoing.
In fact, the stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is often referred to as “Cancer Alley” for the number of chronic health issues long-term residents face. Environmental justice organizations are actively pursuing legal and other actions to provide relief for the communities.
What is the story of Bayou Corne?
Bayou Corne lies 15 miles west of the Mississippi River. The local community was known as a friendly area and fisherman’s hotspot.
Texas Brine conducted salt mining operations throughout the bayou from 1982-2011. As early as 2003 (or earlier), residents noticed that the bayou land seemed to be “bubbling”—which isn’t unheard of, since methane gas often bubbles up in swampy areas.
In 2012, things reached a breaking point. The Oxy3 mining chamber collapsed and formed a giant sinkhole. Over 159 homes were put under immediate evacuation order. Today the sinkhole covers 24 acres and is growing—and Bayou Corne as it once was is gone.
Even on the streets the sinkhole doesn’t currently threaten, flammable fumes below ground level pose a high explosion risk, so all but a few residents have left their homes behind.
What makes Bayou Corne special?
The area of Assumption Parish is beloved by locals for its natural recreation opportunities and warm community. Some things to do include:
- Visit the Elm Hall Wildlife Management Area to see the bayou ecosystem. You’ll find a cypress-tupelo swamp, lakes, and bottomlands. Fishing and camping are allowed—and birders may be able to spot bald eagles nesting in the cypress!
- Spend a night in a historic venue like the Madewood Plantation Mansion in nearby Napoleonville.
Bayou Corne is another example of a community devastated by a manmade environmental disaster. Keep on the lookout as news continues to surface about legal and social progress in the area.
Pro Tip Bayou Corne’s neighboring town Pierre Part was featured in the History Channel’s well-received “Swamp People” series.
How to visit Bayou Corne
From Baton Rouge, take LA-1 S to LA-69 S for 36 miles to reach what is now the Bayou Corne Sinkhole on a map.
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