Cameron Parish, located in Southwest Louisiana, is vibrant and alive with wildlife, fertile hunting grounds and authentic Louisiana charm.

The History Of Cameron Parish

Organized in 1870 from parts of Calcasieu and Vermilion Parishes, Cameron is named for Simon Cameron, a Pennsylvanian who was President Abraham Lincoln’s first secretary of war. It is among the largest civil parishes in Louisiana, yet the least populated, owing to the high proportion of land area devoted to marsh. Cameron Parish comprises a large portion of the Louisiana Chenier Plain, and thus is home to numerous cheniers, elevated ridges that occur in certain coastal regions, particularly in Louisiana. Early settlers include John M. Smith, Millege McCall, John William Sweeney, George W. Wakefield, William Doxey, James Hall, James Root, and John M. Miller.CAMPlogo

The western half of Cameron Parish was part of the colorful No Man’s Land or 1806 Neutral Ground (Louisiana) agreement to solve a boundary dispute between the governments of the United States and Spain after the Louisiana Purchase. The Calcasieu River (at the time the Arroyo Hondo) and the Sabine River became the eastern and western boundaries. Devoid of law enforcement, the area became a hotbed of outlaws, pirates, and other nefarious characters for many years.

The American Civil War, and numerous hurricanes, such as Audrey, Rita, and Ike were defining events that shaped the trajectory of the region. Loyalties were split in the coastal area at the onset of the Civil War, setting the stage for additional conflict. Block chronicled activities of the Unionist “Mermentau Jayhawkers” and their vigilante nemesis, the “Mermentau Regulators” during the fall of 1863 in and around Grand Chenier.

Cameron Parish was devastated by Hurricane Audrey on June 27, 1957, causing over 390 deaths. Authors, Nola Mae Ross and Susan McFillen Goodson chronicled the stories of many Audrey survivors in “Hurricane Audrey”, published 40 years after the storm. Tales of tragedy and heroism emerged with the heavy press coverage following the devastation. The American Medical Association named a local Cameron physician, Cecil Clark, the General Practitioner of the Year in recognition of dedicated service despite great personal loss. shutterstock_250561660Audrey defined Cameron Parish for nearly 50 years, with local history being divided into before and after Audrey periods until much of the parish was destroyed again by Hurricane Rita on September 24, 2005. “Little Chenier” was filmed in Southwest Louisiana just prior to Hurricane Rita, and contains some of the only accessible moving images of the area before it was destroyed.

In 2008, three years after Rita, Hurricane Ike came ashore and brought a 22-foot (6.7 m) storm surge, which was far worse than Rita’s 10-foot (3.0 m) surge. Nearly every square inch of the coastline in that area was flooded heavily, with surge and floodwaters reaching 60 miles inland, as far north as Lake Charles. In Cameron Parish the communities of Cameron, Holly Beach, Hackberry, Creole, Johnson Bayou and Grand Chenier were essentially destroyed. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from atop rooftops, including 363 people who were rescued by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Search and Rescue teams in conjunction with the Louisiana National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard.