Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Friday, October 1, 2010

Leesville, Louisiana

On my way north to pick up Eric Thursday, I stopped to visit Leesville, Louisiana. This small town grew up on the lumber and railroad industries in the 1800s. It seems to be on a thriving upswing, beating the blight that has plagued Smalltown USA for several decades.

Leesville is home to Fort Polk, an army base housing 22,000 soldiers and their families. Economically, this is great for local businesses. I arrived in Leesville around lunchtime, and saw several men in uniform milling around, giving the town a patriotic feel.

The historic district, centered around Third Street, was once a bawdy, rambunctious thoroughfare, thanks to the military base. But the town washed its face, so to speak, and sent the rowdies over to Highway 171.

I ate lunch at Leesville CafĂ©, ordering the plate lunch (daily special, for my northern readers. Took me years after moving here to figure out plate lunch.) Beef tips, mustard greens, yams, cornbread – all good except for the cornbread, which was salty instead of sweet. I’d asked for the beef tips over rice, but the waitress brought them on mashed potatoes. Oh well. Must be my yankee accent. The topping on the apple cobbler so reminded of my grandmother’s – a sweet memory.

Then I set out exploring. The crown jewel of the town is the Vernon Parish Courthouse, built in 1910. Love the architecture.

I really liked this weathervane atop the Police Jury building.

The Imperial Hardware Store, in business since 1955, attracts a lot of customers. With its myriad of necessities and curiosities, it’s the kind of place I peruse in five minutes, and my husband an hour.

I was surprised to find a chic upscale boutique called Threads. Not my style of clothing and accessories, but interesting nonetheless.

There’s one art gallery called Gallery One Ellleven – no, not a typo, 111 is the address on Third St. – but despite the sign saying it should have been open, it was decidedly closed. Disappointing.

Another restaurant of note is the gas station-turned-burger joint Fat Boy and Skinny’s. Having some time to kill, I went there for a root beer float (with chocolate ice cream, of course). If I hadn’t been full from the beef tips, I’d have eaten a second lunch. The burgers smelled delicious, and the fries were fresh cut. I can’t wait till next time I have to pick up Eric, so I can stop there to eat.


Common Household Mom said...

I love the idea of the town washing its face! I love your photos - even the sky looks like it washed its face. The clock is what fascinates me. It looks a little incongruous. And the bell in the gazebo. Very interesting indeed. Thanks for taking us on a little visit.

Jess said...

I love your travel. Absolutely love seeing things through your eyes. :) I don't like really sweet cornbread -- wonder if the cb was really salty or just too salty for you. You really should submit some of your travel articles to magazines. I guess I'll have to start looking for some markets for you. BTW, Jim still isn't eating eggs. He's totally turned off by them... of course, he doesn't like chicken anyway. Guess this is a matter of ... heh heh heh, the chicken came first for him :-)

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Jess, I've had cornbread that has been dry and not as sweet, but this was really salty. Yeah, I might have to look into some travel markets. Thanks for the encouragement!