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Between New Orleans and Baton Rouge beautifully restored antebellum plantations along the Mississippi are filled with period antiques, evoking tales of Yankee gunboats and the ghosts of former residents. Industrial plants share the scenery now, and the man-made levee, constructed in the early 20th century in an attempt to keep the mighty Mississippi on a set course, obstructs the river
views that plantation residents once enjoyed. Still, you can park your car and climb up on the levee to survey a stretch of the wide, muddy river.Between the Destrehan and San Francisco plantations you will drive through what amounts to a deep bow before the might of the Mississippi: the Bonnet Carré Spillway is a huge swath of land set aside specifically to receive the river's periodic overflow, thus protecting New Orleans, 30 miles downriver.
Hemmed in as it is by endless industrial plants, Baton Rouge may not look like much from the road. Yet government-history enthusiasts will want...