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Shantyboat On The Bayous

Shantyboat On The Bayous

Foreword by Don Wallis
Copyright Date: 1990
Edition: 1
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Shantyboat On The Bayous
    Book Description:

    Since the publication ofShantyboat: A River Way of Lifein 1953, Harlan Hubbard achieved a wide reputation as a modern-day Thoreau. Not content simply to advocate a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency, Hubbard and his wife Anna in 1944 built with their own hands a houseboat on the banks of the Ohio near Cincinnati and in 1946 set out on a leisurely, five-year journey down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.Shantyboat, Hubbard's recounting of their journey to New Orleans, andPayne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society, his sequel telling of their life in a corner of rural Kentucky after their return, won him a host of readers.

    Shantyboat on the Bayousis the middle chapter of the Hubbard saga. It tells of Harlan and Anna's voyage of explorations into the remote reaches of Louisiana. For more than a year after reaching New Orleans, the Hubbards meandered through the lush Cajun country on the Intracoastal Waterway, along Bayou Lafourche, thought the marshes around Avery Island, and finally up the storied Bayou Teche toward the farthest point of navigation.

    The story of these travels, along with the author's illustrations of the bayou country, offers a portrait of one of the most unusual and least-known regions of our country and of the people who inhabit it. In this book, the Hubbards once again demonstrate their gift for living in simple and eloquent harmony with the land. As Don Wallis notes in his foreword,Shantyboat on the Bayouscompletes Hubbard's autobiography of "the life he shared with Anna, self-created and self-sustained, difficult and joyful, full of achievement and discovery, diligence, pleasure, and reward."

    Here is a jewel of a travel book, certain to be treasured by Hubbard's many admirers and discovered by scores of new ones.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4793-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-xiv)
    Don Wallis

    “I still cherish my longing for a new life,” Harlan Hubbard wrote in his journal on May 7, 1941, “close to the earth, out-of-doors, simple and active, a way I can live in honor. How this can come about I do not see now. I shudder to think it may be only an idea.” Harlan was forty-one years old, an artist whose work had gained no recognition, a sometime carpenter and construction worker, a solitary wanderer on the Ohio River and in the hills and woods of his native northern Kentucky. He found strength in solitude and joy in nature,...

  3. I
    (pp. 1-5)

    Our shantyboating began on the Ohio River with no more thought of cruising into the bayou country of southern Louisiana than of navigating the upper Amazon. In fact, we undertook this venture with no definite intentions of any kind, except a vague notion of drifting downstream as natural as a piece of driftwood and as heedless of an ultimate destination. We went down to the river in the hope of realizing a long-cherished desire to live close to it, with nothing between us and the stream we loved.

    I was a natural for a shantyboat life, having that strange inclination...

  4. II
    (pp. 6-10)

    It was from a road map that we got the idea of making a sortie to Barataria, which was marked as a small town on Bayou Barataria and only twenty miles from New Orleans. Thus by a single day’s trip we could have a look at one of the Bayous and also at the Intracoastal Waterway, which follows Bayou Barataria for a ways. We hoped that even this brief contact would make the bayou country real instead of imaginary and inform us whether or not the Intracoastal was feasible for shantyboat navigation.

    We decided that I should make this trip...

  5. III
    (pp. 11-26)

    A shantyboater learns to accept the weather as it comes and wait it out. Otherwise we might have been impatient during the period of wind and rain which now kept us in our harbor and postponed our departure. Though eager to reach our new cruising ground, we settled down contentedly enough to indoor occupations, enjoying the extra hours of reading and music, writing and painting. The voyage ahead was never out of our minds, however, and we prepared ourselves for it by studying a book of detailed maps of the Intracoastal Waterway obtained from the New Orleans office of the...

  6. IV
    (pp. 27-41)

    In this part of our voyage we were following the old route which connected New Orleans to the marshland, used in the earliest days of settlement by French trappers who paddled their laden pirogues up the shallow extremity of Bayou Barataria to a point not far from the Mississippi, an easier and safer route than the open, swift river afforded. The bayou was also used by Jean Lafitte and his band of pirates, who could slip into the city by this unguarded back way from their hangout in Barataria Bay. Many a cargo of contraband was poled and paddled through...

  7. V
    (pp. 42-64)

    Our mechanical navigation of the canal, while prosaic compared with free drifting on the river’s current, afforded delights we had not anticipated. It was pleasant to sit on the main deck in the shade and glide slowly through space and time with the smooth and gentle motion that only a boat in water can give. The sunny shores passed at a footpace. We could examine the varied grasses and plants which fringed the water—what a contrast between the elephant’s-ear, with its broad, triangular leaves, and the soaring reeds—or look into the depths of the green, swampy forest hung...

  8. VI
    (pp. 65-83)

    This harbor held no particular attraction for us, nor did we have any reason for remaining near Lockport; but it was so good to be to ourselves in the open country, away from roads, dust, and noise, that we were content to linger here until the spirit should move us to travel on.

    The low shores of the canal allowed us to overlook from our deck the level country which surrounded us, a privilege that had been lacking when we were under the higher banks of Bayou Lafourche. Here was a wide plain of grass and scattered trees extending to...

  9. VII
    (pp. 84-90)

    Nearly a year previous to our arrival at Morgan City, when we were drifting down the Mississippi River, with Louisiana on both shores, we came to a wide opening on the western side which the map called Lower Old River but which a local fisherman had spoken of as the Mud Ditch. We might have thought that this was a tributary stream except for the curious fact that a considerable volume of water was pouring into it from the Mississippi. This water finds an outlet to the Gulf of Mexico through the Atchafalaya River, which begins at the Mud Ditch...

  10. VIII
    (pp. 91-114)

    The entrance to Bayou Teche can be located from a distance by a concrete-and-steel flood gate. This gate is a small unit in an extensive system of works whose purpose is to ease the strain on the levees of the Mississippi River during a flood by making a safety valve of the Atchafalaya. The volume of water diverted from the Mississippi will lower the crest on that river and lessen the danger at New Orleans, but it will cause abnormally high stages on the Atchafalaya. To meet this danger, new and higher levees are being built along that stream, and...

  11. IX
    (pp. 115-129)

    The low, almost tideless shores of the Gulf of Mexico are a grassy prairie with many bays and inlets. Often the Intracoastal Waterway is separated from open water by only a narrow verdant strip; enough protection, however, to reassure us as we sailed along, looking out from our decks to a horizon of water.

    Now to the west a blue smear appeared above the flat land, like a bluff on the Mississippi River seen from far off. It was indeed high land, Cote Blanche Island, one of the five salt domes of Louisiana. These are not islands in the sea...

  12. X
    (pp. 130-141)

    Delcambre is another of the small Louisiana fishing ports which are not on the coast but inland, in this case ten or twelve miles. The natural bayou on which it is situated has been dredged and straightened to make the Delcambre Canal, a channel for small craft, leading to Vermilion Bay and the Gulf. The canal is also the harbor at the town, where the boats tie up at docks along the shore.

    If I were to guess at the number of fishing boats working out of Delcambre, I would say a hundred; there may be considerably more or less....