I went to Jefferson a couple of weeks ago for an after Halloween ghost walk and it reminded me of a fun weekend I spent there about two years ago that I've never posted about here.
It was April 15th, last day of what has since become known as the Tax Season from Hell. I decided that I was going to check myself into a Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson (about 45 minutes west of Shreveport) to sleep. Jefferson is known for its antique shops, which isn't something I'm particularly interested in, so I thought it would be a great opportunity for sleeping, reading, and knitting. BTW, other than the odd looks I got as a single woman spending the weekend alone in a B&B I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
I arrived at 4:45 and was asleep by 7:00, lulled by the many trains that pass near the town. Well, as will be no surprise to the regulars of this board I awoke at 8:30 the next morning bored and bent on exploration. The owner of the B&B told me about the ghost walk that met each Friday and Saturday night in front of the museum. Well, since that was many hours away I decided to walk around town.
First stop was the aforementioned museum. This has to be one of the best places on the face of the earth. Apparently they went around and gathered up the random collections of people from around the Ark-La-Tex and put them all into the old courthouse. I spent two hours exploring the three story building and I'm sure I missed stuff. There was a bathroom dedicated to the 1920s which included a manequin dressed as a flapper, old Caddo Indian arrowhead collections, and lots of random junk that people had obviously found rusting or rotting in great-grandma's barn and given to Jefferson.
Down the street is the Excelsior Hotel which is resplendent in its Old South oppulance and still has the original threshhold that has a groove worn in it from all the people that have crossed it in the last 130 or more years.
Across the street from there is Jay Gould's personal railcar which has been restored by a local womens club that gives regular tours. I never did quite understand how Jefferson wound up with this railcar. It is especially odd since Gould cursed Jefferson and predicted that one day grass would grow in its streets and all the people would be forced to leave. Which, did happen during the middle part of the 20th century before Texas's Main Street project chose the town as one of its first recipients.
Then I discovered the boat ride down Big Cypress Bayou in a boat that had been retired from Six Flags over Texas. We floated down the Bayou with our guide pointing out all the different plants and animals that we saw. It was here that I learned why Jefferson had once been a booming town but had since fallen on hard times. Before the Army Corp of engineers lowered the water table in the Bayou in the late 1800s and again in the 1920s with the completion of Cross Lake in Shreveport it was possible to sail a steamboat up the Mississippi River to the Red River then into Caddo Lake and into Big Cypress Bayou. This made Jefferson the last big inland port into the west from the Mississippi river and an important Confederate stronghold during the Civil War.
Then there is a a steam train and tracks that were purchased from a defunct amusement park that has been set up along the banks of the Bayou. I wound up taking that ride with a bunch of boyscouts that I had seen fixing the tracks when I was on the boat ride. It covered much of the same turf as the boat ride, but from a different perspective.
Finally came the ghost tour. By this point in the day I was almost worn down, but the promise of ghosts and more importantly a walk around Jeffesron, at night, with lanterns was too much to pass up. The guide was wonderful and she's still the guide now. She not only describes all of the ghosts that are supposed to haunt the area, but knows a lot about the history of Jefferson and manages to give a two hour ghost hunt/ tour/ historical walk of the town that feel way too short each time I do it.
I slept in the next morning and made the short trip back home which was "marred" only by my windshield wiper randomly blowing up along Highway 59.