A drive through the parishes surrounding Lafayette Parish will take you through small towns, such as Rayne, Eunice, Grand Coteau, and St. Martinville as well as the lesser known towns of Sunset, Melville, Butte LaRose, and Loreauville.
Oftentimes these towns—and the thousands of other like-size points on state maps—are by-passed by travelers on their way to the more well-known destinations. With limited time, travelers miss the unique features of these “off-the-beaten-path” treasures.
On a recent drive to St. Landry Parish, I visited one such town, Washington, the third oldest settlement in Louisiana.
The first stop was the Washington Museum and Tourist Information office.
As I left the Tourist Information center, we found the town’s marker in an alley “waiting” to be restored and returned to its position at the city limits.
“Reuben Flagg is attributed with delivering the first pork shipment to Chicago, in 1831, to a group of Methodists.
“The first frame home in Chicago was possible because Flagg hauled the walnut timbers to build it. Plainfield thus earned the nickname ‘Mother of Chicago’.
“Plainfield is also claimed to be the home of the very first ice cream sundae. Story says that a Plainfield druggist created the novelty after the urgings of patrons to serve something different. Topping some ice cream with syrup, he named it the ‘Sonntag’ after his surname. ‘Sonntag’ means ‘Sunday’ in German, thus the ice cream sundae was born” (plainfield-il.org/pages/villagehistory).
But, back to Washington, Louisiana.
To learn a bit about the town, I searched out a local resource. I met a police officer (whose name I did not learn). After a conversation about my walking around town taking photos, our travels, and sights to see in Washington, he recommended seeing Magnolia Ridge. This 60-acre plantation had over three miles of trails with gardens.