View Full Version : New Orleans in 1875

09-10-2011, 07:40 PM
I have a few questions that Google has failed me on.

1) New Orleans in 1875. I realize it's an older city, but it's not an Eastern one. It's closer to the old West. So I'm wondering about gun laws. Would people have been packing heat? Six shooters on the hip? Or was it more "civilized" like say, Philadelphia or other older established cities of the time? I'm pretty sure it wasn't like Tombstone where gunfights were common. Maybe more like Dodge City? Check your guns at the saloon?

2) The swamps that surrounded New Orleans. I'm wondering how wild it would have been back then. I'm not worried about malaria for the story, but if someone had to head through the swamps (I have an old voodoo hermit living in a hut in the swamps and my MC has to visit him), would there have been walking trails back then or would they only have been able to travel by some sort of boat? Could you ride a horse through? And how close were the swamps back then? Could you have walked out of a city street and found yourself surrounded by gators?

3) I think that's the first year for the Mardi Gras as an "Official" legal holiday. How many days do they have parades? Would it be possible to have parades nightly for several days?

Thanks all!

Drachen Jager
09-10-2011, 08:23 PM
Looks like this book would be worth your while.


There are some low-rez pictures and maps (and you can order the hi-rez ones) here.


Drachen Jager
09-10-2011, 08:29 PM
Some news clippings from NOLA in 1875 here.


09-11-2011, 12:16 AM
Those were still the days of riverboat gamblers. The gun laws were about the same as everywhere in the U.S.: who could carry a gun anywhere unless the owner of an establishment told you to check it.

09-11-2011, 10:30 AM
I'm pretty sure nearly all travel to and from NO would have been by water. Riverboats, obviously, but smaller craft would have been used as well. You could travel along the natural river levees on land, but you still would need to cross tributary streams when you encountered them. The region upstream from NO toward Baton Rouge is probably pretty similar today to what it was then, aside from the largely elevated Interstate 10 highway. Lots of swamp, and that too would have been navigated by boat. The typical cajun small boat is called a pirogue, and that term remains in use today.

Downstream from NO to the outlet of the Mississippi River its still pretty much water travel today, unless you do small planes or helicopters.

For an informational aside, NO is where it is because a major bend in the Mississippi is located there, and the river channel is extraordinarily deep. It was the perfect place for a port, and it still is one of the nation's major port cities. You can sit today on the famous "Moon Walk" on benches along the river, drink you a beer or a hurricane, and watch huge freighters and tankers come upstream through that turn and swing to within a stone's throw of the shore.


09-14-2011, 04:23 AM
Actually, I thought in doing my research I learned that they had trains that ran from Chicago to New Orleans back in that day.

But that swamp thing is going to give me fits. My first draft he rode his horse a day north through paths in the swamp, but now I'm thinking he might need to use that boat. Could you pole or would you row? (Oh, the pirogue looks like a canoe, standing and poling would probably not be advised.)

09-14-2011, 04:41 AM
The best way to get a feel for a historical city is to read the newspapers of the day. Some of them you can find online for free or through your local library for free. Some you have to pay a service to view. Well worth it though.