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Concordia Parish History

 

Just a quick drive across the Mississippi River bridge brings locals and visitors alike to Natchez’s much younger city.

Vidalia, Louisiana was founded nearly eight decades after Frenchmen founded Fort Rosalie in 1716 in what is now Natchez.

Spaniards were the first to fly a flag over the site of Vidalia, and the Spaniard, Don Jose Vidal, is the one from which Vidalia takes its name.

Vidalia has been home to famous people and the site if famous events. Although some controversy exists about the exact location, Vidalia lays claim to the sandbar where it is said the famous Jim Bowie sandbar duel took place, The city hosts a festival each year to commemorate the historic event.

As the 19th century turned, the land around Vidalia turned white as snow in the fall, as the rich alluvial soil proved perfect for growing the new cash crop – cotton.

Vidalia felt the effects of the Civil War, especially the downslide in the economy due to the inactivity on cotton plantations.

Vidalia sat on the riverfront for many decades and suffered numerous floods. It was the Great Flood in 1927 that finally pushed Congress to create law that required a levee system and caused Vidalia in 1938 and 1939 to be moved from its riverfront site to its present location slightly away from the river and behind a protective levee.

In 1940, the first bridge was built to connect Vidalia to Natchez. The second was constructed in 1988.

A unique project in Vidalia was the construction of the Sidney A. Murray Jr. Hydroelectric Station, the first hydroelectric power plant in Louisiana and believed to be the largest pre-fabricated power plant in the world.

Vidalia and Natchez have a history that is intertwined. What affects one side of the river usually affects the other.

In recent years, Vidalia has moved progressively to develop its riverfront. A river walk, a hotel, an amphitheater, a conference center and a medical center are among the additions.

Just down the road form Vidalia, approximately a 15 minute drive, is Concordia Parish’s second largest town-Ferriday.

Located within the Mississippi Delta, Ferriday has always been a colorful and unique place.

Though known for its productive farm land, abundant timberlands, oil resources and gas fields, Ferriday is especially known for its many renown citizens, such as news commentator Howard K. Smith, jazz musician Pee Wee Whittaker, legendary Hollywood hostess, Ann Boyar Warner, to name a few.

Historically, there were many plantations along the mighty Mississippi River dating back to the 1800s. When railroads were built, there was an influx of residents into the area. The railroad came to Ferriday in the very early 1900s. Ferriday was officially incorporated in 1906.

By 1940, there were 14,562 residents in Concordia Parish, much to the credit of the new railroad industry. The railroad is now gone and Ferriday’s business structure has faced many challenges over the last 50 years, but a grand evolution is now taking place.

The Ferriday Museum was born from a vision of the Chamber in the late 1990s. Its predecessor; the Delta Folklife Festival, had been sponsored annually by the chamber for several years. A museum committee created a medium by which the “famous six” citizens of Ferriday could be honored, namely Howard K. Smith, Ann Bolyer Warner, Pee Wee Whitaker, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Delta Music Museum is housed in the former post office located at 218 Louisiana Avenue and it is today the hub of the ongoing revitalization of the downtown historic district.

Today, Ferriday’s traditional small-town, southern living provides residents and visitors the experience of plantations, golf courses, country clubs, cotton gins, fried catfish, museums, performing arts theatre and miniature horse and ostrich farms, plus much more. The area also has over 300 miles of water for great fishing and recreation, besides an abundance of hunting and camping venues.


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