Wednesday, April 16, 2014

history of catahoula, part three

A WINDOW INTO Catahoula history opened in 1928 and stayed open. On Easter Sunday of that year, one year after the Great Flood, Gabriel Rousseau opened a state-of-the-art inn, the largest recreational complex of its kind in Louisiana at the time, on the western shore of Catahoula Lake. Brochures announcing the grand opening included a description of the inn, the lake and its environs, and survive today as Catahoula’s first depiction in images and words. That’s what I mean when I say a window opened in 1928 and stayed open. It’s as though, through the brochure, we can still see into the past:


Located on the West shore of Catahoula Lake, nine miles east of St. Martinville, St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, is the new Catahoula Inn. It is easily reached by fine shell roads from Lafayette connecting at that point with the famous Old Spanish Trail. This new hostelry has been erected by Mr. Gaston Rousseau, who with discerning vision and appreciating the splendid location and environment, has provided a rendezvous where those seeking recreation, amusement and out-door sport can find the most excellent that Dame Nature provides.


Catahoula Lake is noted for its picturesqueness; its deep blue waters which are teeming with many varieties of fish. Always cool and refreshing, for pleasure boating. It is one of “Nature’s Beauty Spots” and “A Fisherman’s Paradise.” On the shores of this wonderful body of water rises the new Catahoula Inn. A most pretentious building covering an area of 80 by 120 feet, buiilt in a most substantial manner. It is set high above the surrounding ground on huge cypress posts. The floor of the building being ten feet in the clear above the soil. These posts rest in concrete foundations.

The building is designed to accommodate all sorts of pleasure seekers. It is enclosed with glass on three sides, the front and two sides, thus giving an abundance of light in the interior and affording a clear vision of the outdoors to the inmates. The rear of the building is partitioned into kitchens, private dining rooms, living quarters and rooms for innocent games for the guests of the establishment.


Entrance to the main floor of the Inn is gained by a wide stairway in the center of the front, which leads to a large veranda which borders the entire front of the building, in which easy chairs and tables for the convenience of serving light lunches and cold drinks are arranged. Several doors lead from this veranda into the main dance hall, an enormous room planned in the center of the structure. This dancing floor is a feature of the improvement with its capacity for a crow of 2,500 dancers at one time. At the rear end is the band-stand. The entire hall is thoroughly screened and the exposure is open to the cooling breezes from the lake, while a most gorgeous view of the surrounding expanse is available to the dancers through the glass enclosed sides during the winter months.


This immense dancing hall is arranged so that it can be converted into a grand banquet hall where gatherings of many hundreds can be regaled on groaning boards set for their accommodation. For ordinary purposes the hall is provided with 40 sanitary onyx tables and 200 chairs.

Partially surrounding this main great hall, with entrances to same, are a number of private dining rooms arranged for the accommodation of week-end visitors, tourists and vacationists. There are also rest rooms for ladies and gentlemen and special dressing rooms for ladies.

At the rear of the building is the large kitchen, 15 x 40 feet in area in which is installed a battery of modern cooking stoves, and also the latest in electric refrigerating boxes. From this kitchen is served the menus, famous for their incomparable cuisine. A modern soda fountain and ice cream cabinet are part of the fixtures both attached to the electric refrigerating plant.


The water used by the Catahoula Inn is obtained from its own private artesian well, bored 2,200 feet deep, from which an abundance of the purest, cool water is obtained. This is piped to the different rooms of the building and supplies the electric refrigerators with the water which is frozen into ice. The power for operating the refrigerating system of the Inn is supplied by its own electric power plant having a capacity to generate 3,500 volts. This power plant also supplies the electric light which is furnished unsparingly to all parts and at night the edifice presents a most brilliant aspect.

For the accommodation of the devotees of Izaak Walton the management has installed a series of small cabins, or rooms, under the main building. These are on each of the sides and are equipped with a complete camping outfit and boats, fishing poles and tackle, bait and other necessary articles for fishermen are on hand, while Catahoula Lake provides the finest fishing ground in the country’s famed fishing section. Another feature which is of much interest and enjoyment to those who love to fish is the abundance of crabs in Catahoula Lake, and crabbing has proven to be one of the real sports at this resort.


Fishing is not the only out-door sport which can be enjoyed at Catahoula Lake, but it is a famous place for hunting in winter months. Just out of Catahoula Lake, down the Atchafalaya river, there is in season wonderful duck-hunting and also along Opelousas and Whiskey bayous. Millions of ducks and wild geese are to be found in this region on the sand bars. Squirrel is also found in abundance all around the resort. Mr. Rousseau owns the finest pack of hunting dogs in the State, comprising setters, pointers and the only real pack of English-bred Beagle hounds in this section, and he is always willing to go on a hunt and guide his guests to the best spots for sport.


The large centre area under the main building, directly below the great dancing hall, is provided a picnic dining quarters. Table and benches are here for the use of picnickers free of charge, with an abundance of fresh, running water, sanitary drinking fountains and sanitary toilets. Boats for pleasure excursions are obtainable at a reasonable charge. For those who come to Catahoula Inn in automobiles a gasoline filling station is located on the grounds and there are skilled mechanics to repair any auto trouble. While your motor car is being looked after, your own personal appearance can be improved at a sanitary barber shop in the building. A fine shell road encircles the entire building and parking space is more than ample.

Many diversions will be offered the guests of Catahoula Inn. Among others will be a most pleasant and enjoyable excursion trip twice daily by boat to the Atchafalaya River, through Bayou Mercier, thence to Lake LaRose and down Little Bayou LaRose to the rolling Atchafalaya. Moonlight rides on the lake, games and other amusements galore will always be part of the program each day.