Scenic USA - Louisiana

Tchefuncte River Lighthouse

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Tchefuncte River Lighthouse - Madisonville, Louisiana

Photo by Amanda Haddox
Amanda Haddox Photography

     When you're born on the bayou and accustom to an odd mixture of Native American, Cajun and Creole languages, pronouncing the name Tchefuncte (cha-funk-tuh) may seem natural. For the rest of us, it can be quite intimidating at first glance. Named after a 1st century Indian tribe, the Tchefuncte River became a main transportation route, running northward from Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi border. The town of Madisonville was established on the first useful section of land north of Tchefuncte Marsh. A lighthouse soon followed, marking the mouth of the river and the channel's tight S-turns. Named after the popular President James Madison, Madisonville became a resort town before the Civil War, where the wealthy from New Orleans would come to enjoy the cool breezes off Lake Pontchartrain and escape the oppressive heat of the city.
     Like so many southern lighthouses located on important shipping channels, the 25 year old lighthouse was destroyed during the Civil War. Rebuilt on the same foundation, the lighthouse was raised to 40 feet and outfitted with a 5th order Fresnel lens in 1868.
     Today, the Tchefuncte Lighthouse is managed in part by the Lake Pontchartrain Maritime Museum. Refurbishment plans were derailed twice by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but now the lighthouse appears in wonderful form. Unfortunately the lighthouse grounds are closed due to safety reasons and recent vandalism, and the best views may come from the channel by boat or along Route 1077. This marvelous scene was taken across the water from the Madisonville Marina, capturing a cool reflection on a very warm Louisiana night.

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