(These are just some digital shots again; I’m sending 2 110 cartridges to Dwayne’s today and getting 3 rolls of 35mm developed.)
I found out about this place through a Facebook page called Abandoned Louisiana. It’s outside of Thibodaux, which is just an hour and 45 minutes drive to the east.
It’s an old sugar plantation that went bust during the Depression, and there was a whole little town that housed their workers. It was just left to fall apart–not just the buildings but even a lot of the equipment–until Nicholls University got involved in preserving it in the late 1970s. Other than a couple of cabins, and the company store (which now sells local crafts and sugar products that go towards the upkeep of the place; there’s no entrance fee and the labor is all volunteer), they haven’t tried to restore anything. It’s like the gold rush ghost town of Bodie, CA, which coined the term “arrested decay” for their approach. I think that’s more interesting anyway; I love to photograph falling-down buildings with vines growing on them and old rusty metal.
You can’t go in the buildings of course, because they’re dangerous, and they’re almost all behind barbed wire so you can’t get up real close. But I spoke to a volunteer who said if you call ahead you can arrange a guided tour, and while you still can’t get inside the buildings, they will take you behind the wire and let you get a little closer. I may do this for a Lomographers meetup; there was an old mill that I especially would like to get closer to. I think there may have been a fire at one point because it’s just an empty shell, but it’s really choked with brush and secondary growth trees and barely visible from the road.
If these photos look familiar, it’s because they’ve filmed scenes from nearly 30 movies here, including Ray, Interview With The Vampire, and Angel Heart. Any time they need something slave-y or sharecropper-y, or just dirt poor-looking in the state of Louisiana, they call Laurel Valley.
The store also housed some of the smaller things that were left behind, like things from the schoolhouse and church.
You should avoid Laurel Valley if you have a chicken phobia.
They even had a little movie theater.
I kept expecting the American Pickers to show up and start raving about all the AWESOME rusty metal junk.