As the GRR approaches its southern end, land and river begin to merge. With giant levees on one side and standing water on the other, it’s easy to imagine the land is sinking—and indeed, by the time you roll off elevated I-10 into New Orleans, you will be four to six feet below sea level.
From the St. Francisville ferry to the Interstate bridge just west of New Orleans, the GRR crosses the Mississippi four times, threading along rough back roads past a series of fine antebellum plantation homes along what’s sometimes called Plantation Alley. The GRR also runs among a barrage of industrial giants whose toxic discharges have earned the region another sobriquet: “Chemical Corridor.” The Great River Road across Louisiana is not without its charms—a vividly painted church out in a field, or wrought iron gates framing exquisitely gnarled live oaks festooned with Spanish moss—but these are all too often overshadowed by the specter of a land being poisoned for profit. End of sermon.