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Smith's Landing

A trading post developed at this site on Bayou Boeuf in the early nineteenth century was known as White's Landing. The landing was well used, but the bayou was an unreliable means of transportation for planters to get their crops to market due to fluctuating water levels and narrow twisting passageways. An area engineer, Ralph Smith Smith, had experience building railroads and understood the settlers' shipping problems. He decided a railroad was the solution and ca. 1840 built the first one west of the Mississippi River from Alexandria to White's Landing. It was known as the Red River or Ralph Smith Smith Railroad and was 16 miles long. Though rather crudely built and very slow, the train could make one round trip a day and operated for over twenty years. It served its purposed well by enabling the settlers living in the Bayou Boeuf Valley to get their crops to market more efficiently. White's Landing then became known as Smith's Landing. In 1854 the landing was renamed for the famous racehorse Lecompte. The railroad was destroyed in 1864 during the Civil War. In 1881 Smith sold his railroad to the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company. Smith RR track bed and relics were discovered in Lecompte during work on Jefferson Highway.

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