PLANS FOR a wilderness center in Catahoula, a cross between a Cajun theme park and a wetland preserve, were drawn up in 1976.
The main entrance would have been off of Lloyd’s Stretch — Highway 96, after you cross the bridge but before you get to Red’s Levee Bar — and the center would have occupied the wetland area between the levee and the lake, all the way into the forks.
The center would have included:
- A Natural Habitat Zoo with ecology center, covered amphitheater, large boat dock, small boat dock, observation areas devoted to reptiles, turtles, alligators, birds, deer, nutria and otter
- A Cajun Village with fishery, trading post, moss gin, fais-do-do barn, pirogue maker, schoolhouse, Cajun house, country church and graveyard
- An Oil Town with wooden oil derrick, sawmill, bar room, shack, boat dock, observation tower and ice house
- A Plantation with showboat theater, the Atchafalaya Queen, smokehouse, gristmill, mule-driven ride, voodoo shack, plantation house, barn, soap maker, animal petting area, cotton gin, blacksmith, syrup mill and grinder, sugar kettles and slave quarters.
- A Farm Village with Cajun pioneer farmhouse, boarding house and restaurant, doll house, candy store, candle shop, pottery maker, basket weaver, gunsmith, general store, gift shop, wood carver, bandstand, bookstore, printing shop, photo shop, train tracks, train depot, laundry building, bath facilities, comfort stations, fais-do-do barn and boat center.
But the project never made it past the blueprint stage. Resistance from the small community built, forcing the fate of the Atchafalaya Wilderness Center to a public vote, and when a NO verdict was rendered, plans were scrapped. So the Atchafalaya Wilderness Center exists only in the imagination, sketches on a scroll of blueprints.