The mighty Sassagoula River flows to each side of Ol’ Man Island. On one side, the powerful river continues on its course to the sea. On the other side, where the current is gentler and prone to meandering, the waters merge with the lowland to form the famous part-marsh, part-swamp known as the bayou. It was here that trappers in the 1800s found abundant wildlife. And it was the lazy, slow serenity of the bayou that gave the original settlement its unhurried way of life.

Of course, life in the bayou a hundred years ago was not all rest and relaxation. In the part of town now known as Alligator Bayou, only the heartiest souls dared to build. Not only was there the threat of hungry gators, the marsh itself was a constant challenge. As rains fell far up north and the level of the Sassagoula rose, more than one homestead would be knee-deep in swamp.

But the settlers who chose life in Alligator Bayou were as resourceful as they were determined, and they built their homes and other buildings a foot and half off the ground. Even today, though the gators have (mostly!) retreated further into the bayou and floods are a less-frequent occurrence, you’ll find the structures in Alligator Bayou still constructed with the same distinctive elevation. So when you visit, watch your step as you walk the wooden porches...and keep one eye out for gators should you venture off the path!

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