August 22, 2021
The town of Louisiana was quite a surprise. It must have been a beautiful place at some point. Some of the antebellum houses are in good hands now but much of the city is in need of some TLC.
Louisiana is located at the junction of State Route 79 and US 54. The former follows the Mississippi River for most of its length from Hannibal to St. Charles County. The latter enters Louisiana from Illinois via the Champ Clark Bridge, named for a former US Speaker of the House from nearby Bowling Green.
The town was founded in 1816 by John Walter Basye and named after his daughter, Louisiana Basye. Other notable early residents were Samuel Caldwell and Joel Shaw, both of whom purchased land from Basye in 1818. All three properties became the original town plat and comprised mainly riverfront properties. Many of the town's residents trace their ancestry to these town pioneers. Louisiana proved to be a profitable shipping point on the Mississippi River, and that wealth led to numerous substantial antebellum homes. Many of those still remain and, along with the Georgia Street Historic District in downtown Louisiana, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has noted that the town has "the most intact Victorian Streetscape in the state of Missouri."
Louisiana is one of three communities forming the 50 Miles of Art corridor, linked by history, heritage and Route 79; Louisiana, Clarksville and Hannibal are home to many artists, crafts-persons and artisans. The community is also home to the annual Louisiana Country Colorfest.
In 1946, the town was the site of a Fischer-Tropsch plant capable of producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Seven scientists brought into the United States by Operation Paperclip from Nazi Germany took part in the research.
Louisiana hopes to be part of the "green energy" revolution as a former ammonia plant has been converted for the study and production of synthetic fuels.
Louisiana is home to Pike County's largest festival, the Louisiana Country Colorfest, that began in 1984. The event is held the third weekend in October and is attended by over 8,000 people annually.
In addition to the Georgia Street Historic District, the Charles Bacon House, Capt. George and Attella Barnard House, Bethel Chapel AME Church, City Market, Goodman-Stark House, Louisiana Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot, Louisiana Public Library, North Third Street Historic District, Pike County Hospital, and Gov. Lloyd Crow Stark House and Carriage House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.