Bonnet Carré Spillway Construction

T he Bonnet Carré Between 1849 and 1882, the Bonnet Carré
Crevasse left a large, fan-shaped imprint on the
landscape. (Map from the New Orleans District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brochure on the
Bonnet Carré Spillway) Spillway is just one element of a comprehensive U.S. Corps of Engineers flood control plan in the Lower Mississippi Valley. The construction of the Bonnet Carré Spillway not only provided employment to thousands of workers but ultimately “put Norco on the map.” Unfortunately, Delhomme, Roseland, Hermitage, and Myrtle Land plantations, as well as many residences and family cemeteries, fell victim to the construction of the spillway. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt 

The spillway became a tourist attraction.

paid a visit to the site in April 1937, following an earlier dedication in December of 1935. The design and construction of the spillway was completed in just two and a half years. Today, the spillway, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers– New Orleans District, remains as it was originally constructed; no significant modifications to the structure have been needed. In addition to its primary purpose, the spillway area is a popular recreation destination for locals and visitors from around the state and nation. Park rangers are on the scene in both a supervisory capacity as well as to provide educational services. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt

In April 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, accompanied by the mayor of New Orleans and Governor Richard Laiche, A picture from a 1930s Shell Bulletin shows the crowds waiting on the levee for the president. rode through the streets of Norco on his way to visit the newly dedicated Bonnet Carré Spillway. His open-air vehicle gave all those along the way a chance to see his characteristic broad smile. The Shell Bulletin reported in its May 3 issue that his route was lined with waving schoolchildren and Norco and vicinity residents. He kept his hand raised high in greeting. He inspected the spillway project thoroughly, spending fully forty minutes on his tour. He then retraced his route back to New Orleans where thousands waited for him in City Park.

President Roosevelt rides through the streets of Norco.


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The Hermitage Plantation was owned by Judge Pierre Adolphe Rost and was located at the center of the present Bonnet Carré Spillway. A sugar cane field is covered with water following the Hymelia Crevasse break. (Photo courtesy of the George Lorio family)

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Flooding in Hill Heights is depicted in this 1973 view. (Photo courtesy of Fay Walker Louque.)

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Crevasse water takes over a store in Taft. (Photo courtesy of the George Lorio family).

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Copyright © This text is copyright material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.