Plantations to Petroleum – West Bank/East Bank Expansion

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Bunge Grain Elevator
Bunge grain elevator, Destrehan.

Mid-Century Changes

As the 1950s rolled around, other economic engines were starting up. The Delta Match Corporation opened in St. Rose in 1952 on the old Frellson Plantation, and Lion Oil Company (Monsanto) construction began in 1952 in Luling on the old Ellington Plantation. Delta opened as the first large, wooden match manufacturing plant in the South, eventually becoming the largest of its kind in the world. In 1955, Shell Chemical opened a plant in Norco on the site of the old Diamond Plantation.

In 1958, the parish would experience a loss of commerce with the closing of one of its first major industries, the American Oil Company in Destrehan. Hundreds of workers were left jobless. Whitecollar workers were given options to move to other company locations. Intervention by parish officials resulted in cooperative efforts with the company to help the unemployed workers find jobs.

The first unit of the Little Gypsy Power Plant in Montz was activated by the Louisiana Power and Light Company in 1960. And, as in the past, new opportunities were just around the corner. A new type of industry was being actively pursued by parish officials. Two grain elevators started up in Modoc: Bunge Grain Elevator in 1961 and the St. Charles Grain Elevator in 1968. On the west bank, the Farmers’ Export Grain Elevator opened in 1963 in Ama.

Large industrial corporations opened facilities in the sixties, including Union Carbide (Dow), Hooker Chemical in Taft, and Waterford I and II on plantation land formerly used primarily for sugar cane farming. Plans for Waterford III Nuclear Power Plant surfaced in 1970 and commercial operation commenced on September 24, 1985.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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