The story goes that the matron of The Shadows on the Teche, the antebellum landmark in New Iberia, was faced with a stark offer. Take the oath of allegiance to the United States and get food from the federal steamboats playing Bayou Teche. She thought this pledge a betrayal of her husband and sons away in the Confederate army and she died before the end of the war.
A romantic story, and her portrait can still be seen at the Shadows, now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
But the Teche endures in peace and war.
The recent designation of the Teche as one of the National Park Services’ water trails is a recognition of the extraordinary history lived on and in bayou communities. It is not only a scenic waterway but one of great economic significance in the history of the state. It was a waterway of commerce for generations.
Now, with this designation, more people will be aware of the canoeing and other attractions of the bayou.
The water trail stretches 135 miles from Port Barre to Berwick, going through four parishes.
The national designation was sought by the TECHE Project, a nonprofit group launched in 2009 that has spearheaded several projects to clean up the bayou and make it easier to access and enjoy the waterway.
TECHE Project Executive Director Conni Castille said the national park system’s designation could bring national attention, literally putting Bayou Teche on the map for tourists seeking a water adventure in south Louisiana.
“We hope it’s an economic generator for all the communities,” she said.
We agree. The Teche is in excellent company, one of fewer than 20 waterways in the park service’s system. Let its traffic flourish in the years ahead.