RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…

—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.

In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  

Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.

While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.

During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.

With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   

After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.

Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.

 * * *

April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.

Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.

JOY PROM - JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE

"Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Young man, get yourself off the ground" — pumps from the speakers, the trumpets blare and then — "It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A." — and hundreds of arms extend into the sky while red and blue lights flash from the stage.

Grace Fellowship in Johnson City, Tennessee, joined the Joy Prom movement in 2011 and are continuing to go strong along with other groups in Las Vegas, Charlotte and more. The guests of this prom range in age from knee-high to a grasshopper to older than 60 and have a range of special needs. Everyone at the event has the common goal of dancin’ their ass off and having a good time.

The night starts with the red carpet, where the attendees are announced and they enter dressed to the nines. Once at the party, you can get a horse drawn carriage ride, play Wii or air hockey, get your photo taken at the photo booth with a wacky mustache or big boa, or sit around and visit.

After dinner is served and all have eaten, the DJ starts the music. Some roll out to the dance floor while others strut — and everyone dances.

Like out of a movie, while Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is spinning one young woman hops on the stage and does the entire choreography without missing a beat. The crowd cheers and she is not without a dance partner for the rest of the night. Couples smooch and slow dance and many are spun during a fast number. The music is hit after hit and it seems like barely a minute has passed before the lights come up and it is time to go home.

Guide Note: If you or a family member has special needs, consider finding a Joy Prom near you to attend. If you have photography skills, have mean dance moves or have experience with food service, consider volunteering at the prom. (It’s the only time you’ll see me dance in public.)

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
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DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
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DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
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DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
Zoom Info
DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
Zoom Info
DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 
—Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.
Zoom Info

DOMINICK’S CLOSES - EDGEWATER, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

In industry Illinois ranks third among the States. Situated in the heart of the corn belt, it leads the Nation in the production of agricultural implements and corn refinery products. Chicago leads the world in the slaughter and packing of meats; the city has been aptly characterized by Carl Sandburg, “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” 

Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (WPA, 1939)

* * *

Hailing from Berea, OH, Benjamin S. Rogerson resurfaced in the Midwest after living in New Mexico and Alaska. From his home base in Chicago, he teaches film editing at Columbia College, explores the city shooting, and dreams of traveling to Patagonia. Follow Benjamin on Tumblr at fatsquirrelphotography.tumblr.com and find more of his work on his website, www.benrogerson.com.

TENNESSEE WATERSHED 

Photographer Jeff Rich is recording American watersheds for his WPA style project, The Watershed Project. He sends photos from the Tennessee River for AG Week Field Assignment #8: Waterways:

The French Broad is one of two major tributaries to the Tennessee River. Continuing down the system of watersheds that make up the southeastern quarter of the Mississippi River Basin, this portion of the Watershed project examines the Tennessee River Basin. A system of rivers that is for the most part controlled and ultimately harnessed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. A government organization started in 1933 that provides flood control, navigation on the rivers, economic development, and finally electric power production. The TVA operates nearly 50 dams in the Tennessee Watershed, as well as 18 power plants, and 3 nuclear plants.

The original Tennessee guidebook writes of The Tennessee Valley Authority: 

The Tennessee Valley Authority was created by Congress in 1933 to develop the Tennessee River system in the interest of navigation, flood control, and national defense, and to generate and sell surplus electricity to avert waste of water power. … In its program for flood and navigation control, for land reclamation, and for cheap electric light and power the TVA is substituting order and design for haphazard, unplanned, and unintegrated development. Through its social and educational activities it is bringing to this region a consciousness of its own rich natural and human resources. … For this, as well as its more tangible objectives, the TVA is of national importance.

Tennessee, A Guide To the State (WPA, 1939)

Guide Note:See more of The Watershed Project here.

° ° °

Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Iowa City. His work focuses on water issues ranging from recreation and sustainability to exploitation and abuse. Jeff currently teaches photography at The University of Iowa. He also produces “Eyes on the South" for The Oxford American.

Follow him on his website at jeffreyrich.com and on Twitter at @jeffreymrich.

BATKID DAY - SAN FRANCISCO 

The #AmericanGuideWeek Field Manual — in Field Assignment #4: Folk Festivals, Pageants, Celebrations and Customs — instructs the guide to:

Describe any local folk festivals or celebrations of annual or periodic recurrence.

A/G Week volunteer guide Cameron Getty took heed and sends scenes from the San Francisco Make-a-Wish BatKid event that took place on November 15th, 2013 throughout the city.

* * *

Cameron Getty is a San Francisco-based photographer. Follow on camerongetty.com

A BRIEF GUIDE TO PHILLY, WHICH BEGINS WITH FDR SKATEPARK - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
First Stop. FDR skatepark (pictured, 1, 2) is a homemade, DIY skatepark made by skaters and beautified by some of Philly’s best graffiti artists. It’s one of the city’s greatest community projects, gathering so many people together and embodies what it means to be both a skateboarder and a city dweller.
Stop Two. From FDR, you go next to cheesesteaks. This cheesesteak (pictured, 3) is from Pat’s, which is one of the more popular and touristy spots. There are probably better places to find a good cheesesteak in town, but, in terms of atmosphere, it doesn’t get much better than Pat’s (located at the south end of the Italian Market in South Philly).
Stop Three. If there’s one thing other than cheesesteaks that Philadelphia abounds in, it’s abandoned factories. Like many great cities of the northeast, it was once a center of manufacturing and industry; nicknamed the “Workshop of the World” for its industrial Delaware waterfront in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This empty factory with the smokeless smokestacks (pictured, 4) is located in Pennsport, an industrial section of the city that doesn’t get as much action as it once did.
Stop Four. A pretty typical Philly street (pictured, 5), consisting of mostly two and sometimes three story rowhomes. Most residential streets outside of Center city — whether North, South or West — look something like this. These houses are what’s left of working class Philly. That’s not to say the city isn’t a working class city, it’s just not working class in the traditional last century definition of the word (see Stop Three above, the empty factory in Pennsport).
Stop Five. The Ben Franklin Bridge (pictured, 6; view from) looks down Second Street. You can see Mr. Bar Stool, Christ Church, the US Customs House Building, and, finally, the Society Hill Towers by I.M. Pei.
Last Stop. (Pictured, 7: “203 homicides so far this year in Philadelphia.”) A reminder of a Philly plagued by crime, drug trade and prostitution. A bit of perspective from a local church into what daily life is like for a lot of Philadelphians, and how many families are affected by violence.
* * *
Northeast Guide Chris Giuliano is a photographer and student living in the NY/NJ/PA region. Traveling throughout these states, and often to other places as well, he is able to see and capture a wide variety of life, and hopes to portray the way he sees the world to other people through his photographs. Follow on his blog, chrisgphoto.wordpress.com, and his website, chrisgiuliano.com.
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A BRIEF GUIDE TO PHILLY, WHICH BEGINS WITH FDR SKATEPARK - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
First Stop. FDR skatepark (pictured, 1, 2) is a homemade, DIY skatepark made by skaters and beautified by some of Philly’s best graffiti artists. It’s one of the city’s greatest community projects, gathering so many people together and embodies what it means to be both a skateboarder and a city dweller.
Stop Two. From FDR, you go next to cheesesteaks. This cheesesteak (pictured, 3) is from Pat’s, which is one of the more popular and touristy spots. There are probably better places to find a good cheesesteak in town, but, in terms of atmosphere, it doesn’t get much better than Pat’s (located at the south end of the Italian Market in South Philly).
Stop Three. If there’s one thing other than cheesesteaks that Philadelphia abounds in, it’s abandoned factories. Like many great cities of the northeast, it was once a center of manufacturing and industry; nicknamed the “Workshop of the World” for its industrial Delaware waterfront in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This empty factory with the smokeless smokestacks (pictured, 4) is located in Pennsport, an industrial section of the city that doesn’t get as much action as it once did.
Stop Four. A pretty typical Philly street (pictured, 5), consisting of mostly two and sometimes three story rowhomes. Most residential streets outside of Center city — whether North, South or West — look something like this. These houses are what’s left of working class Philly. That’s not to say the city isn’t a working class city, it’s just not working class in the traditional last century definition of the word (see Stop Three above, the empty factory in Pennsport).
Stop Five. The Ben Franklin Bridge (pictured, 6; view from) looks down Second Street. You can see Mr. Bar Stool, Christ Church, the US Customs House Building, and, finally, the Society Hill Towers by I.M. Pei.
Last Stop. (Pictured, 7: “203 homicides so far this year in Philadelphia.”) A reminder of a Philly plagued by crime, drug trade and prostitution. A bit of perspective from a local church into what daily life is like for a lot of Philadelphians, and how many families are affected by violence.
* * *
Northeast Guide Chris Giuliano is a photographer and student living in the NY/NJ/PA region. Traveling throughout these states, and often to other places as well, he is able to see and capture a wide variety of life, and hopes to portray the way he sees the world to other people through his photographs. Follow on his blog, chrisgphoto.wordpress.com, and his website, chrisgiuliano.com.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO PHILLY, WHICH BEGINS WITH FDR SKATEPARK - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
First Stop. FDR skatepark (pictured, 1, 2) is a homemade, DIY skatepark made by skaters and beautified by some of Philly’s best graffiti artists. It’s one of the city’s greatest community projects, gathering so many people together and embodies what it means to be both a skateboarder and a city dweller.
Stop Two. From FDR, you go next to cheesesteaks. This cheesesteak (pictured, 3) is from Pat’s, which is one of the more popular and touristy spots. There are probably better places to find a good cheesesteak in town, but, in terms of atmosphere, it doesn’t get much better than Pat’s (located at the south end of the Italian Market in South Philly).
Stop Three. If there’s one thing other than cheesesteaks that Philadelphia abounds in, it’s abandoned factories. Like many great cities of the northeast, it was once a center of manufacturing and industry; nicknamed the “Workshop of the World” for its industrial Delaware waterfront in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This empty factory with the smokeless smokestacks (pictured, 4) is located in Pennsport, an industrial section of the city that doesn’t get as much action as it once did.
Stop Four. A pretty typical Philly street (pictured, 5), consisting of mostly two and sometimes three story rowhomes. Most residential streets outside of Center city — whether North, South or West — look something like this. These houses are what’s left of working class Philly. That’s not to say the city isn’t a working class city, it’s just not working class in the traditional last century definition of the word (see Stop Three above, the empty factory in Pennsport).
Stop Five. The Ben Franklin Bridge (pictured, 6; view from) looks down Second Street. You can see Mr. Bar Stool, Christ Church, the US Customs House Building, and, finally, the Society Hill Towers by I.M. Pei.
Last Stop. (Pictured, 7: “203 homicides so far this year in Philadelphia.”) A reminder of a Philly plagued by crime, drug trade and prostitution. A bit of perspective from a local church into what daily life is like for a lot of Philadelphians, and how many families are affected by violence.
* * *
Northeast Guide Chris Giuliano is a photographer and student living in the NY/NJ/PA region. Traveling throughout these states, and often to other places as well, he is able to see and capture a wide variety of life, and hopes to portray the way he sees the world to other people through his photographs. Follow on his blog, chrisgphoto.wordpress.com, and his website, chrisgiuliano.com.
Zoom Info

A BRIEF GUIDE TO PHILLY, WHICH BEGINS WITH FDR SKATEPARK - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

First Stop. FDR skatepark (pictured, 1, 2) is a homemade, DIY skatepark made by skaters and beautified by some of Philly’s best graffiti artists. It’s one of the city’s greatest community projects, gathering so many people together and embodies what it means to be both a skateboarder and a city dweller.

Stop Two. From FDR, you go next to cheesesteaks. This cheesesteak (pictured, 3) is from Pat’s, which is one of the more popular and touristy spots. There are probably better places to find a good cheesesteak in town, but, in terms of atmosphere, it doesn’t get much better than Pat’s (located at the south end of the Italian Market in South Philly).

Stop Three. If there’s one thing other than cheesesteaks that Philadelphia abounds in, it’s abandoned factories. Like many great cities of the northeast, it was once a center of manufacturing and industry; nicknamed the “Workshop of the World” for its industrial Delaware waterfront in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This empty factory with the smokeless smokestacks (pictured, 4) is located in Pennsport, an industrial section of the city that doesn’t get as much action as it once did.

Stop Four. A pretty typical Philly street (pictured, 5), consisting of mostly two and sometimes three story rowhomes. Most residential streets outside of Center city — whether North, South or West — look something like this. These houses are what’s left of working class Philly. That’s not to say the city isn’t a working class city, it’s just not working class in the traditional last century definition of the word (see Stop Three above, the empty factory in Pennsport).

Stop Five. The Ben Franklin Bridge (pictured, 6; view from) looks down Second Street. You can see Mr. Bar Stool, Christ Church, the US Customs House Building, and, finally, the Society Hill Towers by I.M. Pei.

Last Stop. (Pictured, 7: “203 homicides so far this year in Philadelphia.”) A reminder of a Philly plagued by crime, drug trade and prostitution. A bit of perspective from a local church into what daily life is like for a lot of Philadelphians, and how many families are affected by violence.

* * *

Northeast Guide Chris Giuliano is a photographer and student living in the NY/NJ/PA region. Traveling throughout these states, and often to other places as well, he is able to see and capture a wide variety of life, and hopes to portray the way he sees the world to other people through his photographs. Follow on his blog, chrisgphoto.wordpress.com, and his website, chrisgiuliano.com.

APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info
APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.
—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.
* * *


Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.
Zoom Info

APPLE PICKING SEASON - VERMONT

Yes, I think it is nearly safe, by and large, in spite of many exceptions… to say that Vermont represents the past, is a piece of the past in the midst of the present and future.

—Dorothy Canfield Fisher in “Vermonters,” Vermont, A Guide To the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937)

It’s apple picking and cider pressing party season here in Vermont.

* * *

Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of three-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net.

HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA
A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.
On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.
From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.
Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.
In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.
Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.
The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?
From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.
Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.
Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker
Guide Notes:
See longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre as he tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012) in THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 
Map: 1970’s Speculative Land Developments in the LaBranche Wetlands
* * *
Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

HURRICANE ISAAC, ONE YEAR LATER - LOUISIANA

A year ago today, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. The city was largely spared. Power outages darkened the streets, but when day broke, it revealed little flooding, and no damage from the storm surge. At the far reaches of the metropolitan area, in decaying exurbs and working-poor agricultural communities, the storm was far less merciful.

On the east side of Plaquemines Parish, which sits wide open before the Gulf of Mexico, the surge came down like a chop saw. A wall of water tore apart the town of Braithwaite. It ripped tombs from the cemetery and spread them miles around. They were flipped and tumbled into all sorts of odd arrangements. Some sat in piles. Others were leaning vertically against trees with their caskets exposed. People walked amongst the ruined graveyards, scrawling their names and phone numbers on the tombs of their deceased kin. Houses were lifted up and deposited on the crest of the twenty five foot levee that ran along the Mississippi River. Every little thing in sight was waterlogged and broken. The air was heavy and stank of rot, insinuating the number of dead animals deep in the surrounding woods.

From Braithwaite, the storm continued west. LaPlace is a community on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a vast horizon of parking lots and low-rent strip malls. Subdivisions blossom out across the hollowed bottomlands like nebulous dust. Following the initial surge that took out Braithwaite, Isaac entered Lake Pontchartrain and gathered a second surge, building strength and racing towards Laplace.

Though the survivors have moved on and memories have faded, there exists a rather dramatic precedent for Isaac’s path.

In 1915, a hurricane came out of the West Indies. It hit the coast with force, spared New Orleans, and cut a line across Lake Pontchartrain, building a surge as it bore toward the west side of the lake. It exploded onto the cypress shores with indescribable fury, annihilating the small German settlements of Frenier and LaBranche. All the homes were blasted and strewn across the lake. Many of the villagers died. A few were able to survive by taking refuge in a stalled boxcar even as the train trestle it rested on began to disintegrate.

Today, Frenier is a sparsely settled fishing outpost and LaBranche is a cypress swamp that hasn’t seen any residential development since that tragic storm. But things could have been different. In the 1970s, during a rapid stage of St. Charles Parish’s industrial growth, land speculators were pushing hard to turn LaBranche into the diffuse exurban landscape that the nearby town of LaPlace is today. Speculators were buying up huge tracts of land all across the swamp. These investors believed that the Army Corps of Engineers would build a hurricane protection levee along the shore of the lake, thus making their properties eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance. Wetland preservation policies forced the Army Corps to reroute the levee, which now runs roughly parallel with Airline Highway and less than a quarter of a mile to its north, making development of the LaBranche Wetlands financially infeasible.

The day following Hurricane Isaac, Breonne and I visited the Wetland Watcher’s Park, near the site where the extinct town of LaBranche once stood. The park benches, anchored in cement, were ripped up from the ground and strewn about. Boardwalks that previously traversed the cypress swamps had completely collapsed into the water. Mud and sediment carried by the storm surge clung to every surface. The storm’s strength and intensity were evident, but since the area has remained mostly undeveloped since 1915, we witnessed little destruction. I imagined if LaBranche was the enormous lakefront suburb that many had hoped it would become; if rather than upturned benches and felled cypress trees, there existed the dream homes of Lakeland Gardens, or the office complexes of the LaBranche Industrial Park. The concrete slabs of these developments would have rested on the literal bones of the extinct village of LaBranche. Would it have met the same fate? Would Isaac have overwhelmed the neighborhood’s flood protection levee like Katrina did to the Lower Ninth Ward? Would the pumping system have failed, as has happened countless times in communities across south Louisiana?

From LaBranche, we continued on to LaPlace, where those notional scenes of suburban devastation became reality. Standing water covered the streets. Home-interior detritus lined every curb, some of it stacked eight feet high. We were unable to see the most extensive devastation because the streets were too flooded to continue. Red Cross emergency relief shelters along Airline Highway were packed. Hundreds of households were destroyed. Millions of dollars in damage had been wrought.

Nearly a century divides the West Indian Hurricane of 1915 from the storm that devastated Braithwaite and LaPlace on August 29th of 2012. The parallels between these two storms are a large component of our research into the cycles of creation and destruction that occur socially, economically, and environmentally in south Louisiana. Highways, storm drains, oil pipelines, floods, flames, and the decline of the late American suburb are all netting in the tangled web that marries these two storms. Our research continues forward, but we wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to share where we’re at so far.

Words & Map - Darin Acosta; Images - Breonne Dedecker

Guide Notes:

* * *

Louisiana Guide Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Louisiana Guide Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.

THE WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF 1915 - LOUISIANA

Longtime St. John Parish resident Donald Tregre tells stories from the West Indian Hurricane (1915) and Hurricane Isaac (2012). Most footage was filmed in the parishes of St. John, St. Charles, and Plaquemines at or near the time of Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall just southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River one year ago today.

* * *

Darin Acosta has spent his entire life exploring and documenting the wetlands, oil infrastructure and forgotten blight of South Louisiana and studied urban and environmental planning at the University of New Orleans. Breonne DeDecker was born near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and now resides at the end of it. She has degrees in photography and sustainable development. 

Their current work, The Airline is a Very Long Road, is an experimental biography of Louisiana, which you can find at airlinehighway.tumblr.com.

THE LOLO CREEK FIRE COMPLEX - NEAR MISSOULA, MONTANA 
Wildfires in the West are on par with death and taxes as something you can count on. A few are caused by people, but most occur in the days following electrical storms. A lightning strike can burrow into the roots of a tree, smolder and start a fire up to a couple weeks after a strike.
Some fires are far removed from people back in the wilderness and others — such as the Lolo Creek Complex fire in these photos, just outside Missoula, Montana, in Lolo — are in the urban interface.
It’s this blurry edge between the human population and forest where it’s more likely forest dwelling folks will encounter wildlife, enjoy the solitude, and on occasion have their homes devoured by wildfires. It comes with the territory.
Presently, people are being evacuated as this fire has grown to over 8,600 acres in just a few days following a storm.
Websites such as Inciweb.org show what is burning where, the fires’ sizes and whether a particular fire is active or not.
Guide note: Chris will be selling prints of the above photos at his website, chrischapmanphotography.net, and donating 50% of the sale price to the Red Cross. Prints are available in four different sizes, priced from $8 to $50.
* * *
Montana State Guide Chris Chapman was born and raised in the fields of Indiana, spent time in Michigan, California, Washington and Maryland, but has called Montana home since the days before it had speed limits or open container laws. Now married with two young kids, he documents family friendly adventures: canoeing, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and camping, throughout the state. Chris’ Tumblr home is j-appleseed.tumblr.com. His other web home is ChrisChapmanPhotography.net.
Zoom Info
THE LOLO CREEK FIRE COMPLEX - NEAR MISSOULA, MONTANA 
Wildfires in the West are on par with death and taxes as something you can count on. A few are caused by people, but most occur in the days following electrical storms. A lightning strike can burrow into the roots of a tree, smolder and start a fire up to a couple weeks after a strike.
Some fires are far removed from people back in the wilderness and others — such as the Lolo Creek Complex fire in these photos, just outside Missoula, Montana, in Lolo — are in the urban interface.
It’s this blurry edge between the human population and forest where it’s more likely forest dwelling folks will encounter wildlife, enjoy the solitude, and on occasion have their homes devoured by wildfires. It comes with the territory.
Presently, people are being evacuated as this fire has grown to over 8,600 acres in just a few days following a storm.
Websites such as Inciweb.org show what is burning where, the fires’ sizes and whether a particular fire is active or not.
Guide note: Chris will be selling prints of the above photos at his website, chrischapmanphotography.net, and donating 50% of the sale price to the Red Cross. Prints are available in four different sizes, priced from $8 to $50.
* * *
Montana State Guide Chris Chapman was born and raised in the fields of Indiana, spent time in Michigan, California, Washington and Maryland, but has called Montana home since the days before it had speed limits or open container laws. Now married with two young kids, he documents family friendly adventures: canoeing, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and camping, throughout the state. Chris’ Tumblr home is j-appleseed.tumblr.com. His other web home is ChrisChapmanPhotography.net.
Zoom Info
THE LOLO CREEK FIRE COMPLEX - NEAR MISSOULA, MONTANA 
Wildfires in the West are on par with death and taxes as something you can count on. A few are caused by people, but most occur in the days following electrical storms. A lightning strike can burrow into the roots of a tree, smolder and start a fire up to a couple weeks after a strike.
Some fires are far removed from people back in the wilderness and others — such as the Lolo Creek Complex fire in these photos, just outside Missoula, Montana, in Lolo — are in the urban interface.
It’s this blurry edge between the human population and forest where it’s more likely forest dwelling folks will encounter wildlife, enjoy the solitude, and on occasion have their homes devoured by wildfires. It comes with the territory.
Presently, people are being evacuated as this fire has grown to over 8,600 acres in just a few days following a storm.
Websites such as Inciweb.org show what is burning where, the fires’ sizes and whether a particular fire is active or not.
Guide note: Chris will be selling prints of the above photos at his website, chrischapmanphotography.net, and donating 50% of the sale price to the Red Cross. Prints are available in four different sizes, priced from $8 to $50.
* * *
Montana State Guide Chris Chapman was born and raised in the fields of Indiana, spent time in Michigan, California, Washington and Maryland, but has called Montana home since the days before it had speed limits or open container laws. Now married with two young kids, he documents family friendly adventures: canoeing, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and camping, throughout the state. Chris’ Tumblr home is j-appleseed.tumblr.com. His other web home is ChrisChapmanPhotography.net.
Zoom Info

THE LOLO CREEK FIRE COMPLEX - NEAR MISSOULA, MONTANA 

Wildfires in the West are on par with death and taxes as something you can count on. A few are caused by people, but most occur in the days following electrical storms. A lightning strike can burrow into the roots of a tree, smolder and start a fire up to a couple weeks after a strike.

Some fires are far removed from people back in the wilderness and others — such as the Lolo Creek Complex fire in these photos, just outside Missoula, Montana, in Lolo — are in the urban interface.

It’s this blurry edge between the human population and forest where it’s more likely forest dwelling folks will encounter wildlife, enjoy the solitude, and on occasion have their homes devoured by wildfires. It comes with the territory.

Presently, people are being evacuated as this fire has grown to over 8,600 acres in just a few days following a storm.

Websites such as Inciweb.org show what is burning where, the fires’ sizes and whether a particular fire is active or not.

Guide note: Chris will be selling prints of the above photos at his website, chrischapmanphotography.net, and donating 50% of the sale price to the Red Cross. Prints are available in four different sizes, priced from $8 to $50.

* * *

Montana State Guide Chris Chapman was born and raised in the fields of Indiana, spent time in Michigan, California, Washington and Maryland, but has called Montana home since the days before it had speed limits or open container laws. Now married with two young kids, he documents family friendly adventures: canoeing, fly fishing, hunting, hiking and camping, throughout the state. Chris’ Tumblr home is j-appleseed.tumblr.com. His other web home is ChrisChapmanPhotography.net.