Want to ride? Need some ideas. All of the following are fun trips from the Shreveport area, many of which can be completed in a day; some more appropriate for an overnight or weekend. Come back frequently for updates and new rides. In most cases there are quicker routes, but that's no fun, so I've provided my favorite route. As you can see on the map below 44 of the lower 48 states have been colored in. Red depicts all the states I've ridden a motorcycle in, and I hope to complete 2 more in the month of August, just leaving Minnesota and Wisconsin as the last to complete. I think that's appropriate, and a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum might be in order in the future.
Joseph Augustus Biedenharn, a German American candy maker, built his lavish home and gardens along the banks of the Ouachita [Wash uh taw] River in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1913. In 1894 Biedenharn had made a fortune as the first bottler of Coca-Cola. Until that time, Coke was available only in pharmacies and confectioneries. You can tour the beautiful gardens and Coca-Cola and Bible museums at 2006 Riverside Drive. In the Coke museum you’ll see an original Coke delivery truck and you’ll be able to enjoy 5 cent Cokes from the dispensing machine. In the Bible museum there is a 1611 King James version as well as a page from the Gutenberg Bible printed in the mid 1400’s on the first movable type printing press. Visit their website atwww.bmuseum.org for more information. Their hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. There is a fee of $6.00.
Louisiana and Texas share Caddo Lake. In fact, it’s the largest natural lake in Texas. On the Louisiana side you have communities like Oil City and Mooringsport but on the Texas side you have Karnack and Uncertain. Back in the day, steamboats loaded with goods traveled west en route to Jefferson, Texas, via the “Big Lake,” the “Government Ditch.” and the Big Cypress River. Docking was often “uncertain” because of fluctuating water levels. If you would like more information on Caddo Lake go to www.caddolake.info/tours.htm. Captains Ron Gibbs and Wes McCalip run The Graceful Ghost Steamboat Company at 510 Cypress Drive Uncertain, Texas 75661. You can go back to the 1800’s on a wood burning steam powered stern paddle wheeler called The Graceful Ghost or, if you want to tour the backwaters, there are pontoon boat tours. Call 1-877-89Ghost (1-877-894-4678) for reservations. Meet you for lunch at the Shady Glade Marina Café?
Center, Texas, is in the geographic center of Shelby County, one of the 13 original Texas counties organized by the Republic of Texas in 1837. It is only 17 miles from the Louisiana border at the Sabine River. Center is the home of the only remaining Irish castle style courthouse in the United States. Confederate Veterans, Captain Jesse Amason and William P. Wilson, donated 50 acres each for the town site and demanded that the courthouse should sit on a 4 acre square. The courthouse was designed and built in 1885 by J.J.E.Gibson, an Irish immigrant. Gibson studied architecture in Dublin, Ireland and later opened a brick factory in Center, Texas, where he worked as an architect and master mason.
88 miles, 2 hours
"A paradise of rich history, tradition and beauty. Along the NW Louisiana Scenic Byway, Louisiana Hwy 2 in Northwest Louisiana, and a network of other nearby scenic trails, you'll find a side of the state that reflects other, perhaps lesser-known aspects of Louisiana's varied culture.
It's peas and cornbread, fried okra and fresh corn on the cob. It's berry picking on a bright sunny morning or a lazy afternoon of fishing on a tree-studded lake, pond or river. It's rolling hills and pine trees, oil and cotton, Saturday festivals and Sunday night sing alongs at the local church.
You'll find a place where life still moves at a slower pace, where folks still wave and where the area's own colorful history is celebrated at seemingly every turn in museums that are dotted across the rolling hills on and around the Byway. They celebrate everything from agriculture to outlaws and from the oil industry to famous faces with local roots."
In Plain Dealing - This town was named after the plantation of a prominent early settler of North Bossier Parish who bought land in the area in 1839. Sarepta - This quiet community is called home to country music star, Trace Atkins.
Shongaloo - The name is an Indian term meaning cypress tree or running water. Besides the Log Cabin Museum in Shongaloo, points of interest include the Old Salem Church and Cemetery, built by slaves in 1863, about three miles south of here. Two miles north of town is an old Indian Campground beside Indian Creek.
Homer - One of the oldest public buildings in continuous use in the state, the Claiborne Parish Courthouse is a central stopping point for the Claiborne Parish portion of the Byway. The antebellum courthouse, a classic example of Greek Revival architecture, is the anchor of the town's famous and historic courthouse square just to the south of Highway 2 following Highway 9. Take a trip through time at the Ford Museum in the historic Hotel Claiborne on the courthouse square in Homer, which faces the courthouse. For sports and recreation enthusiasts, Lake Claiborne and Lake Claiborne State Park are nearby. The 6400 acre lake with swimming, camping, fishing, skiing and other water and outdoor recreation is eight miles east of Homer off Highway 146. While in Homer, visit Valhalla Motorcycle campground and bar. Scroll down to read more about Valhalla. Lisbon - The Rocky Springs Baptist Church in Lisbon is the birthplace of the Baptist Chronicle, the forerunner of the Baptist Message. The church was organized in 1845. Lisbon is on Scenic Byway 2 between Homer and Bernice. The Lisbon Cemetery is right next door to the Baptist Church.
Highway 2 Connections - These short side trips easily reached along Hwy 2 are worth the trip.
Oil City - South of Vivian on Hwy 1 - deeply rooted int he oil industry (go figure), thus the name. Visitors will want to check out the Louisiana Oil and Gas Museum. Formerly housed in the city's old Kansas City Southern railroad depot, the Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum chronicles the growth of Oil City with exhibits featuring the Caddo Indians and a variety of early oil-field equipment. The museum was formed in 1969 by a group of citizens dedicated to preserving the historical importance of the area as the site of the 1911 "Ferry No. 1" well, one of the world's first over-water discovery wells. Artifacts include a wooden flow line pipe, an electric motor patented in 1899, a steam-driven fluid pump, pipe tongs and other equipment. There is also a large collection of early boomtown and gusher photographs. Another part of the museum, the Caddo Indian Room, features Caddo Indian relics and arrowheads dating back 10,000 years. And, be sure to visit the oil derrick and historic boomtown buildings just outside the museum.
Munn Hill - On scenic Byway 2 between Sarepta and Shongaloo, catch a unique snapshot of history in a historic farm that includes tenant houses.
Muscadine time - Pick your fill of muscadines at Jack Martin's winery. This rare find is at his home near Rodessa off Highway 1 north of Vivian (318-223-4545)
Hot off the grill - People drive for miles for the steaks and ribs at Moon's Grocery and Deli on Scenic Louisiana Hwy 9 north of Highway 2 from Homer (318) 927-3687. It's a self proclaimed, hole in the wall cafe. It doesn't look like much from outside, but at Moon's they cut their own steaks. You buy a bottle of booze, mixers, whatever, and serve yourself. No tables for two or candles! There's moon pies, swiss rolls and zebra cakes on the dessert menu. Some delicacies include Pickled Eggs, Pickled Pigs Lips, Pork Hocks, Pigs Feet, Dill Pickles, and Jalapeño Peppers.
71 miles, about 1 1/2 hours
(Off LA 507 between Parish Roads 797, 164 and
163, south of Arcadia and I-20) - This "mountain" is the highest point
in Louisiana, rising 535 feet above sea level. (Watch out, you might get a nose bleed!)
89 miles, about 2 hours
Ride to the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory, the French town, Natchitoches (Nack-a-tish); nestled just off Interstate 49 in Natchitoches
Parish. The charm of this historic town and its people will give you a dose of southern hospitality at its best. The
cobblestone streets, quaint storefronts, sidewalk cafes and historical homes will take you
back in time. Plan on shopping on Front Street at Louisiana's oldest mercantile company.
Each year, over 100,000
visitors swarm to Natchitoches for the annual Christmas festival
featuring parades, music, food, arts and
crafts shows and fireworks over the Cane River. In Natchitoches you'll find real Creole/Cajun cuisine including fried catfish, alligator, and the famous meat pies. In September of each year the town holds its annual meat pie festival
. This year the event will be held September 16-17 and is sponsored in part by the Independent Motorcycle Riders of Natchitoches
. Natchitoches is famous for the spicy meat or crawfish stuffed in a flaky crust and fried to perfection. If you can't wait for the festival, try Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant
for arguably the best meat pies in town. Or try Cane River BBQ and Bar and Grill, 1125 Washington Street, .3 miles from historic downtown for their
delicious cuban sandwiches, ribs, loaded potatoes, gumbo, seafood,
ribeyes, desserts and barbecue cooked over pecan wood. Choose inside or
The 1989 movie "Steel Magnolias
starring such famed actors as Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton,
Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis was filmed in
Natchitoches and you can stay in the 1830's Bed and Breakfast featured in the movie. (photo by Wikipedia)
Stroll down Main Street or take the popular carriage or street car tours. There are also several Bed and Breakfast homes and historical sites, many of which offer tours, and can be found on the Natchitoches Historic Foundation
web site. Also, a complete schedule of events for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights is available at www.christmasfestival.com.
Just 16 miles from Natchitoches, you'll find the Melrose Plantation
, an educational and enjoyable side trip. The graceful mansion
surrounded by oak trees beckons visitors. The mansion is famous for its
ties to Marie Therese Coin-Coin, a freed slave who became a wealthy
land owner and matriarch. Coincoin’s son Louis Metoyer was deeded the
property in 1796. In 1898, the plantation was sold to John Hampton and Carmelita Garritt Henry, affectionately known as "Miss Cammie",
and became a sanctuary for writers and artists. During the Henry
years, the artistic abilities of Clementine Hunter, once a field hand
and a cook at Melrose, were discovered. She was 54 when she began to
paint, and before her death at the age of 101, in 1988, she completed
over 4,000 paintings. Clementine drew primitive paintings of life on
the Cane River and life as she saw it. Her works were displayed at the
Museum of Modern Art in New York and she was the first African American
woman to have her works exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Clementine Hunter "Juke Joint" 1955; Wikipedia
Ducournau Restaurant, Front Street, Natchitoches (Wikipedia)
Ride to Vivian 68 miles, 1 hour 56 minutes
Click here for interactive map
This is a great ride with some sweeping curves. Hwy 157 has been repaved toward Rocky Mt. and is a great portion of the ride, but the Hossten-Rodessa road is wicked cool!
1 hour, 16 minutes; 54 miles
This is a great ride, with nice roads. The 20 or so miles on Hwy 79 has wide, sweeping curves and is an enjoyable ride. Nearby, Lake Claiborne State Park offers scenic, waterside camping and an enjoyable family time. Bikers can enjoy the ride, a dip in the lake, and the serene quiet of this pristine Louisiana lake.
From the Valhalla website:
- We at Valhalla are in the serious business of providing the traveling biker a nice place to rest and relax. To the best of our knowledge, we are the only campground in Louisiana, East Texas or Southern Arkansas that caters exclusively to the camping motorcyclist.
- We have been in existence since 1997 and have been improving our facilities continuously.
- We hope that you will check our main web site out and give us a visit. We wish you a safe journey wherever you travel!
Medieval castle in Lead Hill, AR
362 miles, 6 hours, 20 minutes
Submitted by Johnnie Covington, via Southern Traveler Magazine
"Medieval castle is rising above the countryside in northwest Arkansas." The Middle Ages are coming to life in Lead Hill, Arkansas, which is about 20 miles northeast of Harrison at 1671 Highway 14 West. (not far from the Missouri border) The full-sized castle is being built by hand just as it would have been built in the Middle Ages. It will take 20 years to complete the project. The building site is an "outdoor laboratory" and "a living history book." Tourists can visit the site and talk with the artisans. It is open Tuesday through Saturday starting March 27th. Tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children. For more information call 870-436-7625 or go to www.ozarkmedievalfortress.com
197 miles, 3 hours 39 minutes (it's closer than you think)
Shreveport to Little Rock is just 3 1/2 hours, but you don't have to take Interstate 30 to get there. A better, more scenic route is along America's two lane highways. My favorite route is to take I-20 East to Minden, take exit 44 on US 371 N to US-79 N to Homer. In Homer, take LA 9 to US-167. US-167 will take you straight in to Little Rock. There's plenty to do in Little Rock and a stop at Lander's Harley-Davidson is a must for Harley riders. With a population of 685, 488, it's twice as big as the Shreveport/Bossier area.
142.7 miles, 3 hours 42 minutes
Click on map to get ride plan!
93.6 miles, 1 hour 54 minutes
When I was a new rider, there were a couple of people that I rode with constantly, and they helped me to become a better, safer and more experienced rider. Dennis Guilliams, a former HOG chapter director, Dwayne O'Neal, a close friend, and my husband, Ric all led me down gravel roads, got me stuck in terrible storms, made me learn to do a U-turn in the middle of a road, and took me up and down steep hills that tested my skill with the clutch. I'll never forget my first trip to Natchitoches when we parked along the Cain River. I didn't think much of it, when we went down, but when we came back up, with me in the lead, on a hill so steep that I could barely see the traffic above and a stop sign , fear gripped me as my left hand threatened to lose a grip on the clutch and my right hand wavered to find the right throttle position. I've found now that there are better places to park along Front Street, including the little side streets. Even as an experienced rider, I am reluctant to take my bike down that hill, or possibly because I'm an experienced rider, I know it's not necessary. So, if you're in Natchitoches, park on Front Street and walk down the steps to the river front. There's a lot of festivals in Natchitoches, so check out their festival page here.
Red Chute, near Haughton is a good meeting place for a ride. Use the Brookshires or CVS parking lot to meet up. This ride took us first to Longwood Bar & Grill, a small restaurant, store, casino, and gas station. They have some great cheeseburgers and Rib Eye steaks are cut to order. We sometimes just make this ride to pick up a steak and take it home and grill it ourselves, but they will grill it for you, if you like. Beer is $1 in the casino, if you're playing. In Uncertain, you can visit the Uncertain Tavern, but our favorite place is the Lighthouse Bar and Grill (described below). Be sure to play "My Baby Don't Wear No Panties" on the jukebox. It's a riot! Next, shoot on over to Vivian via TX 49 and LA 2. LA 2 is a scenic ride. In Vivian, stop at JR's bar and package store - great, friendly people and a nice atmosphere. In Hosston, stop at Jay Leopard's Custom Paint Cafe for some red beans and rice, pull pork sandwich or my favorite, the grill mac & cheese sandwich. Travel home through Gilliam and the tiny little town of Belcher. As you drive into Belcher you'll see a beautiful old oak hanging low over the road, and there's a heart warming tribute to our military at the Veteran's Park. Skip Hwy 71 and instead take State Road 3049. It's not as good a road, but it's way more scenic. It will bring you out at Grimmett Drive, where you can turn right on N. Market and take you directly to Loop 220. Ride safe and have fun!
38.6 miles, 1 hour, 17 minutes
Uncertain where to ride to? Consider Uncertain, Texas"Steamboats, loaded with goods destined for the developing west, traveled through Caddo Lake in route to Jefferson, Texas. Because of fluctuating water levels, mooring was often uncertain." The lake is beautiful, full of Spanish moss cypress trees and big bass hiding in the waters. The area is respected by travelers and the views of the scenery in all its glory awaits the hopeful angler or casual passer by. As you drive through the area, it's easy to get lost, and a GPS would be helpful in finding the establishments. Big directional signs for the few businesses are nailed upon trees at an intersection, where one must choose which way to turn. If not careful, travelers will find themselves back at the starting point, moving in circles if they don't know where they're going. From Shreveport, take exit 5 off Interstate 220 and head North. A short jaunt under the railroad trellis will take you to North Lakeshore Drive, where you can enjoy the winding road that follows Cross Lake. Point toward Blanchard and turn left at Blanchard Furrh Road. At Hwy 169, stop at the Longwood Grocery and enjoy a thick juicy burger, or their famous rib eye steak. Not a city or even a town, Longwood is listed as a "populated place" in Caddo Parish. But, there is good food and even gaming machines if you'd like to try your luck at winning.
incorporated in 1961 it is a small town with only about 150 residents. It rests along the peaceful banks of Caddo Lake, one of the best kept secrets in Texas.
47.7 miles, 1 hour, 25 minutes
Jefferson Texas is a destination like no other. It truly is "a step back in time", attested by the motto plastered on a banner running across the top of their official website. Just 68 miles from Shreveport, (closer if you take I-20 route), it's a great option for a day trip. This trip will take riders along back roads through the tiny towns of Longwood and Karnack, to the final destination of Jefferson. In Jefferson, opportunities abound, like a visit to the General Store for ice cream or fudge, a stroll along the cobblestone streets, a peek inside a large warehouse full of antiques or inside the small stores full of delightful, unique items.
The Old Post Office, Jefferson, TX (Wikipedia)
One can visit a Civil War Museum, the old post office - Jefferson's most recognized landmark, ride a horse drawn carriage or travel on a steam engine train, investigate the history of the ghosts who inhabit this town, or visit Scarlet O'Hardy's Gone With the Wind museum. And, certainly a stop at Auntie Skinner's, a biker friendly establishment is in order. As part of the "Holiday Trail of Lights", there will certainly be plenty of holiday decorations and this trip will provide an opportunity to get in the "holiday spirit".
Coming Soon: Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas
Coming Soon: Ida, Louisiana
77 miles, 1 hour 42 minutes
Fouke, Arkansas, just 45 miles from Shreveport, is a small town with only one claim to fame, that is before the Tony Alamo debacle. Their claim to fame is the sightings of the Boggie Creek Monster, the making of the movies, and the continued search for the creature. Read my story about the HOG chapter adventures in their search for the Boggy Creek Monster. Click here.
40.7 miles, 50 minutes
Mansfield, Louisiana is rich in Civil War history and located just 37 miles from Shreveport.
The Battle of Mansfield took place on April 8th, 1864 and resulted in a Confederate victory, but not without an estimated 4,400 fatalities. Mansfield was the decisive battle of the Red River Campaign and prompted Major General Banks (US) to retreat back towards Alexandria.
There are plenty of things to do and see in this small town:Visit the Mansfield State Historic Site: Located 4 miles south of town on LA 175, the site is open 9 am to 5 pm daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Entrance fees are $2 per person; free for seniors (62 and over) and for children age 12 and under. Groups are asked to call in advance. The 44 acre state park and museum with displays of Civil War weapons, uniforms, and artifacts. There is a 3/4 mile Battlefield trail and the site was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1973. Visit the Louisiana State Parks website for updates on musket demonstrations, candlelight tours of the battlefield and other exciting events scheduled throughout the year.
- Visit the Old Courthouse, erected in 1843. The courthouse is one of only two log courthouses in Louisiana and the first ever in DeSoto Parish. On the grounds is the bell that summoned court into session in 1843. The courthouse is open Mondays and Tuesdays 9 am to 4 pm and Wednesdays 9 am to noon. There are historical items on view. There is no fee; however, donations are welcome.
- Visit The Mansfield Female Museum. The oldest female college west of the Mississippi river, it was founded in the 1800's and operated for 80 years before closing its doors and merging with Centenary College in Shreveport.
- Visit The Old Church Inn. Originally built in 1911 as the First Baptist Church, it was converted into a hotel and restaurant in 1980. It was later turned into an elderly and handicapped apartment complex, but retained its name "The Old Church Inn".
- Visit Rock Chapel. Built by monks in 1871. The Mansfield city website describes the property as follows: "The Chapel was used as a retreat for the monks. It also was a site for weddings, Easter services, and other celebrations. Unfortunately a decline began due to the death of the monks, poverty, fire, and the closure of the Carmelite convent. It fell into disrepair until 1959 when the priest of Carmel-Rambin Churches advocated restoration of the Chapel. Renovation was completed with a dedication service Sunday, June 4, 1961. The Chapel is located seven miles northeast of Mansfield near Carmel on the Smith Port Lake Road. There is a fence around the property with a locked gate. Call the Tourist Bureau at (318) 872-1177 to obtain information to go onto the property."
- Visit The DeSoto Parish Courthouse. Built in 1911, it sits on the square of Washington, Texas, Adams and Franklin streets. With a mixture of Mediterranean and English styles, it is an impressive sight and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
- Visit the Village of Grand Cane Restaurant. Located at 8334 Hwy 171, and rebuilt after a recent fire, this is an icon in the village. With good, home-cooking, it's a perfect lunch time retreat.
32 miles, 47 minutes
58 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes - I rode to Gibsland yesterday, Aug 19th, 2011 and was told that the old gentleman who owned the museum had passed away and it was closed. I'll keep my readers posted if it reopens.
When there are no organized rides planned by any of the various local motorcycle clubs, there aren't any poker runs scheduled, all your riding buddies have other plans, and the weather is perfect, a favorite ride is around Lake Bistineau in Northwast Louisiana. There are straight roads, curvy roads, bayous, and bars and restaurants to see and visit. There's the Bistineau dam and the American Legion. One can ride through Sibley, Doyline, Elm Grove, the nearly defunct Taylortown, and even South Bossier while making the rounds. From South Bossier, one can take Sligo Road and stop at Baby Huey's for a cold drink or travel further down Sligo to Hwy 157 and make a stop at the 4Way Country Club and Store and grill. The Country Store, as its name implies, has country sized burgers and greasy fried foods to satisfy any hunger pangs.
A stop at the American Legion, in Koran is a great place to hang out with some fellow veterans and feel good about being an American. Stroll around the tiny room designated as a museum and look at pictures and read historical and personal accounts about wars in far away places. Imagine the pain of the young man separated from the love of his life, yet proud to serve his country and defend her freedom. Take a look at the photos just a little more graphic than one might like, a harsh reminder of the high cost incurred by these young men and women. Read their stories and view the memorabilia; maybe bow your head and utter a prayer for those young men and women who today are in a far away land defending our freedoms just as the generations before them. This stop is always worth the time taken for reflection.
Just a short way down the road, is the community of Camp Joy with rental cabins, a breathtaking vista of the lake, and an inviting bar and grill complete with deck seating overlooking the water. This is the place to go for breakfast since they can fry up some great bacon and eggs, and guests can watch a spectacular fall sunrise exploding into the cool morning air. Just a little further is Roger's Marina, again with an inviting view of the lake. Here, one can order a drink and sit on the back porch and rest while watching fishermen tossing their lines out in hopes of catching enough for a late evening fish fry. As they hook one and reel it in, they might hold it up for all of the world to see.
Back on the road, the obvious next stop would be “Our Place”, yet another bar and grill with yet another beautiful view of Lake Bistineau. But first, there is the HILL to maneuver. Not for the novice, or the faint, this hill requires you to stand up on your pegs in order to see if there is another vehicle coming toward you since the incline is so steep and the road is so narrow. And, at the bottom is a graveled driveway, and one must make a quick left turn to avoid going into the lake. There are almost always other motorcycles parked outside, and this time of year on Saturday, they gather to watch the LSU football games, or the Saints on Sunday. Our Place also serves some great burgers, so if you haven't been tempted thus far, this is the place to fill your belly. Back outside on the deck you might sit a spell and watch the activities on the lake.
Still in the mood for riding; but enjoying the stops, too, one might want to head out to the dam and Brooks' Bar. Here Mr. Brooks will greet you and welcome you inside. He's an icon in this place, and has lots of stories to tell. He might even shoot a game of pool with you, which is usually free, but careful, he's a ringer!
Finally, I like to head back to Haughton and stop at Pepe's Mexican restaurant for fajitas and enchiladas, a perfect ending to a long day.
75 miles, 1 hour 56 minutes
The Village Restaurant in Grand Cane is located at 8334 Old Hwy 171, and is worth the drive. There is a simple way to get there by taking I-49 south to the Frierson/Kingston exit, turn right on LA 175 and travel south for 8 miles, turn right on state route 3015 and travel 4.5 miles, turn right to stay on state route 3015 and go for 2.5 miles to destination on the right. But, there is a more scenic route that will be enjoyable any time of the year. This alternate route will provide an opportunity to see the scenery and travel through small towns like Frierson, and has something different to offer each season of the year. At the intersection of Youree Drive and Burt Kouns take LA 1 south/Youree Drive for 13.2 miles, turn right at Gayle Bluff Road/LA 175 south and travel an additional 8.8 miles. It gets tricky here, and there will be a right and a left turn to stay on LA 175; travel an additional 11 miles and turn right on state route 3015 traveling for an additional 4.5 miles.Turn right to stay on 3015 and go 2.3 miles. At the intersection of Old Hwy 171, make a right and the restaurant will be about 100 feet on the left.
This restaurant is rich in history. It is reported to be inhabited by spirits from beyond and it has burned nearly to the ground on two occasions. I've been told that it is located on a sacred Indian burial ground, which would explain the other world apparitions that can often be seen and felt on the premises. But the proprietors will not be discouraged by ghosts and fires; they have reopened the famous landmark. It is located near the International Paper Mill in Mansfield and has served the worker's lunch for many years. The food is down-home cooking with some of the best chicken fried steak around, and on certain occasions, guests can dine on marinated rib-eye steaks for very reasonable prices.
- In addition to the great food, interesting history, and beautiful ride to the location, my favorite secret about the place is that the lady who adorns the Sunbeam bread package works there. She is always happy to talk to customers about her experience as a childhood model for the company.
- The nearby town of Frierson is haunted. "From the outside Frierson, Louisiana appears like a typical town, but some long dead people from days gone by have returned to this place. Lots of ghost stories have been conveyed by the local residents. A number of local residents declare these stories are not true, but there truly are bloodcurdling things happening in Frierson in the night time." Read more here.
Go eat and enjoy the company at The Village Restaurant in Grand Cane. You won't be sorry.
131 miles, 2hr 32 min
On January 25, 1905, the world's largest diamond was found at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa. According to history.com, a 3,106 carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent, and weighed in at 1.33 pounds. You probably won't find a 3,000 plus carat diamond at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, but if you do, they follow the "finders keepers rule", and any diamonds, semi-precious stones, rocks or minerals you unearth are yours to keep, regardless of their value. The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond producing site in the world that is open to the public. All colors of diamonds have been found at the park inlcuding yellow, brown, and white.
The 37 1/2 acre plowed field that is eroded from an ancient volcanic pipe has produced many notable finds over the years including the "Star of Murfreesboro," which weighed 34.25 carats; the "Star of Arkansas," which was 15.33 carats and the 8.82-carat "Star of Shreveport."The 4.25-carat "Kahn Canary" diamond was found here in 1977 and was worn by Hillary Clinton during the presidential inaugural balls as well as two gubernatorial inaugurations. The 3.03-carat "Strawn-Wagner Diamond," found in 1990 was cut to a 1.09-carat gem graded D-flawless 0/0/0 (the highest grade a diamond can achieve) by the American Gem Society. Although thousands of people have dug and sifted through the volcanic "kimberlite" soil, there are still plenty of diamonds waiting to be discovered. Since the park opened in 1972, more than 19,000 diamonds have been found, many of which are of gemstone quality. Tom Stolarz, the park's superintendent, says about two diamonds are found by visitors to the park each day. "Most of them are about the size of a match head or smaller, and people usually keep them for souvenirs," he adds.
Not all of the finds have been small. The largest documented diamond find is the 40.23-carat "Uncle Sam" diamond, which was discovered in 1924. The largest diamond found since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park was the 16.37-carat "Amarillo Starlight," discovered in 1975. Geologists believe these diamonds were formed millions of years ago and shot to the earth's surface during a violent volcanic eruption.
Visitors to the park first enter the Diamond Discovery Center, an interpretative center full of exhibits, and a friendly staff. The staff will teach you the three methods of searching for diamonds, show you how to recognize diamonds and other gems, and show you a film "Diamond Prospecting 101" before they send you out to prospect in the diamond searching area. Bring your own digging equipment or rent some at the Discovery Center. When you're finished searching, return to the Discovery Center where the professionals will look over your loot and tell you if you got anything good. If you found a real diamond, they'll even certify it for you.
In addition, there is a water park, camping and restaurant on site. The campground at Crater of Diamonds State Park closed beginning July 26, 2009, to undergo a complete renovation. The campground is not expected to reopen until mid-summer 2010. All other facilities at the Crater of Diamonds are open. Daisy State Park's campground is an alternate choice. Located on Lake Greeson, this nearby state park is 1/4 mile south of Daisy off U.S. 70. The drive time is approximately 25 minutes from Daisy State Park to the Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Crater of the Diamonds State Park is just three hours from Shreveport
Yogi and Friends, Frierson, LA
28 miles, 54 minutes
Yogi and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary is closed for the winter, but will reopen to the public in April, 2010. Yogi and Friends is a large cat sanctuary, and their main goal is to rescue abused, neglected, and unwanted large, exotic cats and provide them a safe, stress-free, permanent home. Although cute when little, these animals can grow into 700 pound creatures and can be dangerous. Yogi and friends does not recommend keeping large cats as pets, and their second goal is to help educate the public about these animals. The sanctuary is open April through November on Saturday only from noon to 5 pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults ages 13 and up, $4.00 for children 4-12, and ages 3 and under are free. Visitors will not have any physical contact with the animals and the animals never leave the sanctuary except for vet visits. The sanctuary is meant to be a safe, permanent home for cats who have in many cases been abused. Among the animals in residence are lions, tigers and cougars.
Yogi and Friends is a 501(c)(3) charity, and strongly urges the public to consider making a tax deductible donation so these animals can spend the rest of their lives with proper food and vet treatment. Yogi and Friends is located at 128 Fob Lane, Frierson, Louisiana 71027, Phone: (318) 795-0455
For more information, visit their website.
And, now for my City Secrets:
- Make this a day long trip or overnight trip by visiting the lovely city of Natchitoches about 50 miles south of Firerson
- One of the owners, Jenny, is very friendly and dedicated to her cause. Feel free to contact her to arrange a visit. She can be contacted by visiting the website.