Historical Publications

Popular History Series Publications

Down by the River: A History of the Baton Rouge River Front  

A history of Baton Rouge Water Front, discussing events from founding of Baton Rouge on March 17, 1699 through today. This booklet inaugurates our series of popular publications; it was prepared in conjunction with the District’s 45-foot-deep, Baton Rouge-to-the-Gulf, Deep Draft Navigation Channel Project.

Bayou Chene: The Life of an Atchafalaya Basin Community 

The life story of a lost, but not forgotten Atchafalaya Basin community. This booklet is the second in our series of popular publications in support of the Corps historic preservation and cultural resources management program; it was prepared in conjunction with the District’s Atchafalaya Basin Floodway Project.


Babin Place Plantation, on the Mississippi River just below the small community of Modeste, Louisiana, is about 7 miles above Donaldsonville in western Ascension Parish. Babin Place originated from two small eighteenth-century Acadian farmsteads in what was known as the “Second Acadian Coast” or “Lafourche des Chetimaches.” In the early 1800s, it became a sugar plantation owned by a succession of proprietors, all of Acadian descent. Babin Place continued to produce sugarcane into the early-twentieth century until it was sold to a local African-American benevolent society, which renamed it New Africa Farm. For over 100 years, Babin Place was also the location of several rural schools for African-American and white children residing near Modeste.

In 1999, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District (CEMVN), planned a levee stabilization project, and then in 2019, proposed the installation of seepage wells. Both projects threatened archaeological remains on Babin Place. Archaeologists conducted intensive excavations on the riverside portion of the plantation in 2000 to recover archaeological information prior to levee stabilization. In 2020, archaeologists monitored the recontouring of the ditch needed to convey water from seepage wells to disposal pumps on the landside portion of the plantation. The aforementioned work and these public outreach materials were funded by CEMVN in partnership with the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District as mitigation for adverse impacts to the Babin Place and Modeste Place archaeological sites resulting from the Mississippi River Levee seepage project at Modeste, Louisiana.

Angola: Plantation to Penitentiary

The history and archaeology presented in this Volume illustrate the remarkable transformation of Angola from one of Louisiana’s major antebellum plantations to its sole maximum security penitentiary. In fact, the property’s survival, intact, for over 150 years is due solely to this peculiar turn of events. In the middle nineteenth century, the seven plantations composing the property belonged to a petite, sharp witted, and incredibly wealthy lady from Tennessee who outlived two of her three husbands and six of her 10 children. Most of the architectural remains found during these investigations date to her period of ownership. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Angola became the primary enterprise of the notorious prison leasee, Samuel L. James and his son. The best historical documentation of the Angola big house dates to the James era. From the twentieth century on, this beautiful property has belonged to the State of Louisiana, and is surely the most scenic state penitentiary in the country.


Books about Local History

Land's End

Land's End details the story of local flood control efforts from 1717 to 1975 and discusses the Federal commitment to preventing the flooding of citizens and properties. The story creates more than a simple district history, but an appreciation of how the region's people made their land habitable by learning to manage their waterways for navigation and flood control.

Download as PDF here.

Designing the Bayous
The Control of Water in the Atchafalaya Basin 1800-1995

In this history, Dr. Reuss tells the complicated, but fascinating story of how local, state, and federal agencies have attempted to reconcile conflicting visions for the basin. In so doing, he illuminates the interaction of politics, technology, and environment. Though focusing on one area of the country, this book addresses many themes associated with the development of water resources throughout the United States. You can obtain a copy of this publication at a cost of $39.95 from the Texas A&M University Press Consortium, at www.tamu.edu/upress.

Historic Names and Places on the lower Mississippi River

Published by the Mississippi River Commission in 1976, this book traces the lower Mississippi River from its beginning at Mile 953.8 Above Head of Passes (AHP) below Cairo, Illinois at the confluence of the much smaller upper Mississippi and the larger Ohio River to the Head of Passes where the Mississippi divides into smaller passes to the Gulf some twenty miles further south.
Link to book on Mississippi River Commission's website