Why Maps? Maps are undoubtedly one of the best ways to show how the contour of Plaquemine changed as the Mississippi River increased in size. It was not until after the high water of 1927 that the U. S. Government took over and tamed the Mississippi River. In 1930 the levee was moved for the last time. The following maps illustrate the shrinkage of Plaquemine as it is swallowed up by the mighty Mississippi. It is important to remember that as land was lost to the river, lives were affected. People lost their homes and their businesses.
Land Grant Map of 1830 This map of 1830 shows the original land grants for the surrounding area. Antoine Rodriguez, Jean Franchbois, and Joseph Devillier’s grants made up what is now Plaquemine.
Map of 1884 Charles H. Dickerson’s map shows Plaquemine’s position relative to the Mississippi River.
Between the years 1854 and 1930, the Mississippi River devoured over two blocks of Plaquemine. This was due to cave-ins, not to levee breakage. When the river was high, the sandbars located on the east side of the river caused the swift current of the Mississippi River to push against the levee on the Plaquemine side. This pressure washed away the dirt under the levee. When the river fell at the base of the levee, the levee would collapse or cave-in. Because of the large amount of dirt falling into the river, the levee could not be repaired but had to be moved to more solid ground. The next picture shows you one such cave-in. In November of 1897 the cave-in in front of the Roth McWilliams Building on Bank Street was approximately 140 feet deep and 210 feet long.
Northeastern Section of Plaquemine, La. in 1854 This is a small section from the official 1854 map of Plaquemine. Note that land from Seminary Street to the river was consumed by the Mississippi River between 1854 and 1930. Seminary St .
Map of 1885 These buildings, along with many others, were eventually consumed by the Mississippi River.
Map of 1891 Shown are the only buildings on the east side of Bank Street that remained inside the levee. The other buildings located on the east side of Bank Street were lost to the river.
Map of 1895 By 1895 all of the buildings located on the east side of Bank Street were lost to the river.
Map of 1898 This 1898 map shows the position of the levee after the river continued to swallow up more of Plaquemine. Houses on the west side of Bank Street which were saved by the previous position of the levee are now lost. Dr. Charles Clement’s home on Bank Street was still protected.
Buildings Left Behind When the Levee Was Relocated in 1898 (Zenon Labauve, first mayor of Plaquemine, mansion 1838) (The first bank in Plaquemine) (Famous Roth McWilliams Bldg..)
Repairing the Levee Near Dr. Charles Clement’s Home
The Former Home of Dr. Charles Clement Located on Bank Street At the time of this photograph, the levee was located on the side and front of the house.
The New Levee after the Cave-in of the Old Levee (circa 1912) The white house on the right side is the former home of Dr. Charles Clement. Between 1912 and 1916 the levee was moved again, and the place where the house was is now in the river.
This map of 1916 shows the levee after having been moved because of a cave-in. The river has consumed most of the property between Bank and Seminary Streets including the home that Dr. Charles Clement built in the late 1830’s.
Map of 1930 This map shows the position of the levee after being moved for the last time. The east side of Seminary Street is now at the edge of the levee. Seminary Street
Seminary Street (circa 1900) Buildings line both the east and west side of the street.
Seminary Street 1998 Levee’s edge forms the east side of Seminary Street.
Irishtown, A Suburb of Plaquemine in the 1880’s This area, which was originally located north of the lock, is now in the Mississippi River.