Here's a really, really blurry and far-away photograph of the ferry at Grand Ecore, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Today, Grand Ecore is referred to mainly as a geological feature, but there is a TON of human history on this bluff (Grand Ecore means Big/High/Large Bluff).
Grand Ecore served as a camping and look out spot for many Caddo tribes. It was a way-marker for the French prior to the Louisiana Purchase. After the Louisiana Purchase, it was the site of the Caddo Indian Factory, a federal agency in charge of creating treaties and forcing the removal of the tribe. In the 1830s through the 1880s, this was a steam boat port. In 1864, it witnessed a Civil War battle, and in the 1910s, it saw the Jefferson Highway come through. Today, the little hamlet consists of a few houses and a vistor's center at the bluff.
There's a story behind every photograph, and today's tale is one of city rivalries.
In the early 20th century, there was a concerted effort to build a bridge at Grand Ecore, and the parish collected a tax for this purpose. This worked, and a bridge was built (not sure what year). But in the Spring of 1925, the bridge needed major repairs. The Louisiana Highway Commission hired a ferry to transport travelers across the Red River.
However, the citizens of Coushatta, across the river in Red River Parish, distributed a circular, which claimed that "the bridge and ferry service temporarily installed for the next thirty days is unsafe." This pamphlet suggested that "tourists and the traveling public" use the road to the east of the Red River through Coushatta instead.
According to Secretary Gill of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, the Coushatta road was "a practically impassable dirt road" and accused Coushatta of spreading this lie "to serve the selfish purposes of a community, aside from the serious reflections cast upon the integrity of the Louisiana Highway Commission." (Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Marcy 14 1925).
The nerve! I guess it's good that the Red River divides Natchitoches from Coushatta to stop them from coming to blows. But it goes to show just how important highway travel became to these towns.
The Secretary for Natchitoches's Chamber of Commerce spoke too soon. Two years later, a brand-new car fell from the bluff due to the flaky road (or flaky driver; the driver was okay and so was the car).