Nestled on the mighty Mississippi River is East Baton Rouge Parish, home to Baton Rouge, the state’s capital as well as the parish seat. Legend has it that the name Baton Rouge, which is French for "red stick," was derived from a red stick or pole that French explorers found on the Mississippi River bank marking a boundary between the hunting grounds of the Houma and Bayou Goula Indians.
A settlement at Baton Rouge was slow to materialize. In an attempt to encourage more settlers, the French government issued large land grants during the eighteenth century. By the middle of the century, the population began to expand as explorers from the Carolinas and Acadian exiles from Nova Scotia permanently settled in the area. East Baton Rouge was officially designated a parish in 1811 and the city of Baton Rouge was chartered in 1817. Baton Rouge became the state capital in 1849 until the beginning of the Civil War, when the capital was re-located to Opelousas, then Shreveport, and later New Orleans, after the first capitol building was destroyed by fire during the war. In 1879, residents of Baton Rouge offered a substantial sum of money ($35,000) to rebuild the capital in Baton Rouge. A new capital was again constructed in 1932, but the old state capital remains as a four-story example of fine gothic architecture and houses the State Department of Art, Historical and Cultural Preservation and the Baton Rouge Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Strategically located on the Mississippi, Baton Rouge is an active port and industrial hub. In addition to the shipping industry, East Baton Rouge Parish, with a population slightly over 380,000, also receives revenues from petroleum and chemical plants, state government, and the educational institutions of Louisiana State and Southern Universities.
Aside from touring the old State Capitol, one must also visit the current capitol building and see where Louisiana’s most famous figure, Huey Long, was shot. From the top of the capitol you can also view the skyline of the city. Additionally, Baton Rouge is home to more than twenty restored antebellum plantation homes. Visitors can also travel back in time aboard the U.S.S. Kidd (WWII), Nautical History Center, Magnolia Mound, and Rural Life Museum. For entertainment purposes as well, East Baton Rouge with its riverboat casinos and fine cuisine, is a definite place to visit.
by Eric Rivet
Events and Festivals
Earth Day (Baton Rouge)
Fest for All (Baton Rouge)
Festival of Lights (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana Book Festival (Baton Rouge)
Plane Pull Competition and Family Festival (Baton Rouge)
Historic Sites, Plantations & Museums
LSU Museum of Art (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana State Museum (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana's Old State Capitol (Baton Rouge)
Southern University Museum of Art (Baton Rouge)
LSU Museum of Natural Science (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana Art and Science Museum (Baton Rouge)
LSU Rural Life Museum & Windrush Gardens (Baton Rouge)
USS Kidd Veterans Memorial and Museum (Baton Rouge)
Buddy Stewart Memorial Rhythm Museum & Rock Shop (Baton Rouge)
Southern University and A&M College (Baton Rouge)
Highland Road Park Observatory (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)
Louisiana State Archives (Baton Rouge)