In Melville, the water hosts one of the main attractions around town. That being the La.10 ferry. That's right, a major Louisiana highway crosses on a ferry that might hold three cars and goes to the other side to continue as a gravel road. Louisiana is great for transitions. You never know.
    Melville is a river town. The river is big, powerful and  history intense.  This all has been documented and is worth the reading. I'll set you up with some links. But let's look around the town a little. I did, again wondering if maybe my presence wasn't as questionable as it was back in 1970. After all, it is a real small town and being seen on the same street three or four times in the span of an hour, taking pictures,  can get people talking. I swore to myself, that if confronted, I would tell them of the plan to produce "Easy Rider II".
  And, it only works from 5 to 8 am and 4 to 9 pm. Time your trip. If on foot, it'll cost you .25 or if you are on wheels, less than 15,000 pounds, a dollar if you are going west to east.Yep, you'll have to pay a buck to ride to that gravel road. Oh, and not on the weekends.
   A prettier bridge than the  Krotz Springs car bridge could ever be, even with her makeover, is the old train bridge, seen from the ferry landing.         
     The two towers in the middle are the draw bridge supports. The track is raised to allow shipping headed either to the Red River or crossing over to the Mississippi at Old River. The waterways of Louisiana are as, or more, interesting than our wonderful roadways.
   A fact: The Atchafalaya is one of the deepest rivers in the world. It is a hungry mouth waiting to swallow all the Mississippi can give it. Someday, man won't be able to say no. Learn about our efforts in the article "Mississippi Ride", found in the Table of contents. 
    Above is the mighty Melville Ferry. I just figured it out after writing the new
Melville Ferry Article. Take a ride, like I did. It was a great experience. I really felt like foreign royalty.
The shot below was taken from the top of the levee at the ferry crossing, which would be behind me. Below we see where La.105 turns under the train overpass. Straight, and turn left, takes you back to Krotz Spring.
  Turn right and you go to Simmesport.
  "Oh, the memory floodgates have been opened.
     To the right of the {welcomd}sign was a dirt trail short cut that I used daily to cross the levee/railroad tracks to go into town and get mail/prescriptions/etc. Later, they built a nice wooden stairway across from the legendary BuckhornSaloon. Napoli's Gen.Store was a store that sold almost everything. I got my "spyder" bike with banana seat and high rise handlebars from there. The butcher  had a  habit of putting his thumb on the meat scale to round out the order to the next pound. My mom would say that she bought another piece of the butcher today, and someday she would own the whole man. There was a gas station east across the street.
    The building with the glass squares above the door was the Farmers and Merchants Bank, owned and operated by W.G. McNeil,  he looked like Daddy Warbucks. He had 2 redheaded children, and I went to school with his son, Lester, who inherited the family wealth.
     Cortie's was like Napoli's and Cannatella's. Mrs. Cortie was the one who threw the soapbox at {Huey}Long to make his campaign promises, and Krotz Springs got the river bridge instead."
  Our first guest writer and another reason for this article is Ray D. Ya'll in Melville know him. Ray found my old Melville article years ago and wrote to me in the Guestbook offering a never ending supply of information on Melville. No other town has been so well represented. A proud community son.  So, below will be the first of Ray's commentaries. These are mostly his words.
  Thanks Ray for that recount. Mrs.Cortie changed the map of Louisiana by throwing that soapbox at Huey Long, the meglamaniac govenor and senator from Louisiana . US 190 went through Krotz Spring which requried a  long bridge over deep swamp which would not have been needed at Melville. Melville now has a little ferry to cross the river which does not run on the weekend and only at "rush" hours on week days. The displacement of the road killed Melville. The power of this man made and broke other men. We have been called a "third world" state. He was Louisiana's dictator.
To head north out of town on La. 105, the Easy Rider Road  press
  Above is my most recent picture of the train bridge. When I was wandering around Melville on the bike looking for good shots, I could not find one of the railroad bridge that I liked, or hadn't taken before.
    I crossed over the levee and saw this older man working on his pickup. I decided to stop and ask him if I could take a picture from his backyard which backed on the river.
   He, said, "What?  
   I spoke louder.
   He said he could hear fine, just couldn't believe someone wanted to take a picture of that old rusted bridge.
   I reflected. Questioned. And then lied about how it was my life's work collecting  pictures of bridges. Actually, I didn't lie.
The Melville Page
     "Years ago a friend and I ran hwy #105 from Simmesport to Melville.  At that time there was an old 2 story hotel there that still had an operating restaurant inside.  Inside this hotel was a hall that ran the full length of the building, upstairs and downstairs.  Each solid door to the rooms also had a screen door.  In the summer the visitor in the hotel would leave his door and window open, leaving the screen door closed, and the ventilation coming down the hall would be the cooling effect for the room. 

       The restaurant decor was the old small square ceramic tiles on the floor, porcelain stools at the counter and vintage tables and chairs.  I told the owner that I needed to bring my wife back here to see this.  His response was " You better hurry up, I'm 84 years old and I'm not sure how much longer I'm gonna be here".

        A few years later the wife and I did make it back to Melville.  I couldn't find the old hotel so I asked around.  The old man had passed away and the old hotel had been torn down.  Part of living is the dying".

Whitey Parke
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More history and comments sent by readers.  Thanks Whitey.
Able Hotel as seen during the Great Flood of 1927. 
   Take a break and check out this great site. It is the Home Page of St. Landry Parish, one very interesting place. Thanks Gloria.
   Also, check out Melville High School's Website. A lot of civic work has been done here to preserve Melville's heritage. The picture of the hotel is borrowed from their stash. Thanks MHS. Oh, Ray sent me.
   So let's say it was late summer, 1971. My cousin was involved in producing a Pop Festival.  Say what? Like Woodstock, but a little smaller and the second experience Louisiana had had with this phenomenom. The first one, which drew the likes of the Byrds, Janis Joplin and more had ended with an arial attach by the State Police. It was in Prairieville, south of Baton Rouge. Not really in the "sticks" at all. My cousin's would be "in the sticks", next to the Atchafalaya River  and away from any large community.

     A little personal background, first, I'm into bikes.  That's motorcycles. I was into them because of image and sillyness like that. Now, I'm into them for what they can do for me. Mainly, great transportation for this digital rag. But that night, the bike was a part of the "Easy Rider" facade. We were dressed to pretty much immulate the Captain and Billy. Oh yes, the hair, too. Sporting brand new Triumphs we rode from Lafayette up to Opelousas and and over to Krotz Springs on the Atchafalaya. The festival was on the other side of the Atchafalaya, but there only a gravel road followed the levee north. No way. The plan was to go up 105 to Melville and cross the ferry to nearly where the gig was.

      Long story short. I had to go onto my reserve gas supply in Melville. It was getting dark and the little town had closed down. I was "freaking",  to use the vernacular of the day. Here we were just a couple of miles from where locals (movie actors, calm down) had killed a couple of the movie's heroes and I was nearly out of gas. Can't imagine how that happened. So, my buddy,  who evidently had experience with this "scene", like in an epic, suggested that we drain the gas hoses at this little gas station. Dumb, but a pint would help. So, we did, I laying a dollar on the top of the pump. Gas was 27 cents a gallon then, so it was paid for.  Then as the last or the 4 drips went into the tank, I heard him saying, as if quoting from the movie, "Here comes the man, here comes the man." Sure enough, there he was in his squad car. Big, with leather this and leather that, and a big gun and a southern brimmed hat. Got the picture?
    We're going to jail.
   "What you boys up too?" 
     Didn't the clothes, hair, and huge gathering of "hippies" across the river from town give him a clue? Oh, he meant stealing gas from one of the citizen's establishments which he was sworn to protect with his life.
      I quakingly told him we were going to a music festival, across the river, and I was running  out of gas, and, I decided to try to get some gas out of the dead pump's hoses to get there and hopefully get some gas from my cousin. Sir.
     Just like that.
      He said, "Follow me". We did. We were going to jail. At the best. At worst, to the swamp to be beaten to death. No, were going  to his house, where he filled the bike to the rim out of his mowing supply and wished us a good trip. No charge. Criminal or otherwise. 
     Now you know my fondness for Melville. Never believe Hollywood. Never doubt people.
The River
             The Ferry
   To the right is a picture of when the aliens landed in 1958. No, it's the Melville water tower. Come on.
  Small towns don't have skylines to mark their greatness to all around, the do have water towers. In a large city, a water tower is ugly and scarry. In a small town, it is a tower pro- claiming the community under one name, and, many times, the name of the beloved highschool mascot.    
    They said I could do the article if I shot the water tower and the Welcome Sign, below.
To leave the levee and go back to the Terminal press
   Very nice, the train tracks are above the sign,, approacing the 105 underpass, and the bridge. I wanted to wait for a train, but then there would have been stories. Rightfully.
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Melville Louisiana
Meet Larry, Louis, Sherry Lynne, Rudy, the Sheriff, Mr. Comeaux, and Frank..
I am introduced to Melville.
The big Atchafalaya River and La. Hwy 10, going down the levee to the ferry.
If you are looking for the
Easy Rider Page
CLICK HERE
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