Most people know about Louisiana’s rich Cajun, Creole and French heritage and culture, but today along the Boom or Bust Byway you are going to experience “Louisiana’s Other Side.” And you won’t be disappointed!
The Boom or Bust Byway follows Highway 2 and is defined by the Louisiana/Texas border and Hwy. 3049 on the west and Lake Claiborne on the east. The Byway is comprised of four parishes: Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Claiborne. As part of Louisiana’s French legacy counties are called “parishes” in reference to the territories that were historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest. Even today the Napoleonic Code (rather than Common Law) holds sway in the state’s courtrooms.
You’ll drive along roads lined with colorful wildflowers. Depending on the season the highway might be lined with golden coreopsis, cheerful sunflowers or crimson clover often against a background of dark green pine trees. You’ll drive past placid bayous, peaceful plantations, shady forests, and rich productive farmland. You’ll pass pretty, well-kept churches reflecting the Protestant faith of most 19th century settlers. Instead of shrimp gumbo or crawfish étouffée, here you can feast on local favorites such as fried chicken, catfish, or chicken fried steak with green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, and cornbread. In the quaint towns, you’ll discover hidden treasures in the shops and fascinating history in the museums.
Why is it called the Boom or Bust Byway? The answer soon will be apparent. As you drive along the byway you will see evidence of the economic booms and busts experienced by the resilient people of Northwest Louisiana. You’ll see graveyards of old oil field equipment that died when the oil industry went bust. But you’ll also see new oil and gas facilities being built in response to the recent booming oil and natural gas economy. For this reason AAA Southern Traveler magazine named the Boom or Bust Byway a Southern Travel Treasure in 2015.
You’ll see forests planted decades ago when forestry was booming, and other areas recently harvested by the remaining forestry industries. Agriculture too, has experienced booms and busts and you’ll pass farms that have survived the hard times to be passed down for generations.
And, if you pass through North Louisiana you’ll see the new booming industry – gaming! Six floating, and fun-filled, casinos can be found along the banks of the Red River. Maybe it is fitting that gaming is now the latest booming industry in Northwest Louisiana, because folks here have been gambling for years — gambling on the steady supply and demand for oil and gas, . . . gambling that once a forest is cut, it will grow back again, . . . and gambling that Louisiana soil will bring forth an abundant crop in spite of regular droughts and floods. And, when they gambled on these things and lost, they didn’t pack up and leave. No sir! They not only stayed, they adapted with an entrepreneurial and independent spirit. Along the Boom or Bust Byway you will meet these gamblers… these self-reliant survivors who proudly call Northwest Louisiana home.