Road Trip #008 – US-51 North (old alignment) – Laplace to Hammond, Louisiana

Welcome back to 504 Road Trips! We begin today’s trip in Laplace, Louisiana at the southern terminus of U.S. Highway 51 at the intersection of U.S.Highway 61 The original alignment of U.S. 51 followed a straight path through Laplace on Main Street just a few hundred feet southeast of here Near Woodland Drive, we join the original alignment of U.S. Highway 51 Since I-10 East and I-55 North don’t officially connect this short section of U.S. 51 acts as a connector between the two Interstates At this point, U.S. 51 joins Interstate 55 across the 22 mile long Manchac swamp bridge but we’re going to follow an older alignment of U.S. 51, which has been decommissioned and no longer carries any highway designation This route is mostly used by people who like to fish in the adjacent canals and bayous There are also boat launches at Frenier, Ruddock and Manchac Just off the right hand side of the highway is an older alignment of U.S. 51 that appears to be constructed of cement slabs but is no longer driveable and mostly inaccessible except in short sections due to the surrounding swamp While driving along, we noticed a number of regularly spaced poles off the right hand side of the road

We stopped to get a closer look They appear to be made of cast iron, but it’s difficult to tell what they were used for They appear to be missing a top part, but if they were used for lighting they may have had a large glass globe on top of what we see here The location is unusual, however. They are about 25 feet off the current highway and even further from the older alignment Here, the Canadian National Railway joins us and runs nearly parallel to U.S. 51 for the rest of our trip Lake Pontchartrain is to our east, and Lake Maurepas is to our west This bridge crosses Pass Manchac which is the short waterway that connects the two lakes This is also the southern boundary of Tangipahoa Parish Manchac, a small unincorporated community also known as Akers is home to the famous seafood restaurant, Middendorf’s The road to the right, which is mostly used as a service road, and for parking, is the older, perhaps original alignment of US 51 We temporarily get onto I-55

and the U.S. 51 mainline and then exit onto U.S. 51 Business into the town of Ponchatoula Ponchatoula is a small town that is the “Strawberry Capitol of the World” and is also known as “America’s Antique City” due to its many antique shops Ponchatoula is also the hometown of the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas We continue into Hammond, Louisiana, the largest city in Tangipahoa Parish

Hammond is a college town on the northeast corner of the junction of I-55 and I-12 Here, U.S. 51 Business turns to the left on West Thomas to rejoin the mainline of U.S. 51 a mile to the west, but we’ll continue straight onto the scenic campus of Southeastern Louisiana University for the last leg of our trip On the right, we see Hammond’s Queen Anne style train station which is a stop for Amtrak’s City of New Orleans passenger train which happens to be unloading passengers as we pass by This is the end of today’s roadtrip. Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and join us for our next 504 Road Trip!