We toured Nottoway Plantation this morning. It was a fun tour – the highlight for me was the grand white ballroom, complete with elegant chandeliers powered by methane gas produced from vegetable waste. They kept canaries in cages in every room to alert them to gas leaks.
Beautiful as the house was though, I was left with wanting to know what was life really like on the Deep South Plantation? What were the slave quarters like? Was it really true what you see in films like Roots? We drove back up the River Road towards New Orleans and visited Evergreen Plantation to find out. With hindsight, it would have been much more sensible to do this yesterday en route – but that is a useful tip for future travellers.
The remake of Roots was actually filmed here. The tour really brought history alive. Imagine the acres of swampland that was Louisana in the 1700s, knee deep in alligators, snakes and mosquitos. Who would want to grow anything in that?! You needed a huge workforce to grow the lucrative sugar cane here and it wasn’t just a question of numbers – you needed people who were skilled at what they did and knew how to farm and get the best out of the land – and how to survive in a difficult climate. No doubt, the slave trade was an abhorrant piece of history, but this tour helped you to understand how and why it happened and gave a much more balanced picture of how things really were here than the TV/films suggest plus a really good understanding of the brutal realities of making a living in this harsh landscape Well worth a visit. Whitney Plantation has a similar theme – but it is closed on Tuesdays.