'Lighthouses of Louisiana' found
By Howell Dennis
CROWLEY – E’Deana Elmer has always been fascinated by lighthouses. Though she is not a Louisiana native (she lives in West Virginia), she had heard and read so much about the history of Louisiana’s lighthouses that she became determined to write a book on their history. Her book “Lighthouses of Louisiana” was recently published and is the first ever book devoted entirely to the history of our state’s lighthouses.
It wasn’t an easy task.
“It took two and a half years of digging - and I mean digging,” laughed Elmer during a phone interview Thursday morning. “I used such sources as the National Archives and the Coast Guard Archives to finally get the information I needed.”
Elmer had heard much about the rich history of Louisiana’s waterways from her husband Roy Elmer, a Lafayette native. Roy works on the River Explorer, a tour boat which takes people on trips through some of our state’s historic waterways.
“It’s really thrilling for me to see where some of these lighthouses stood and to visualize the people who lived there,” she said. “I try to imagine what life was like during their time.”
Elmer obviously has done quite a bit of research judging by her keen knowledge of facts that most Louisiana residents probably don’t know.
“Did you know that the Chase bank building (formerly the Hibernia building) on Canal and Carondelet was once used as a lighthouse,” she said. “At the time it was built it was the tallest building in New Orleans and ships would use the lights on the buildings roof as a guide.”
Elmer pointed out that there had been 35 lighthouses in Louisiana with only nine of them still standing. Only two of them are still operational - the Southwest Pass lighthouse and the Sabine Pass East Jetty lighthouse. Most of Louisiana’s lighthouses have been snuffed out, destroyed by storms, eaten away by erosion, or simply torn down. The lighthouses of today are unmanned and run by automation unlike the images most people have in their minds from old movies.
Elmer self-published her book which she says makes it all the more rewarding when she gets compliments from Louisiana residents.
“It’s been really exciting,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the people down there. The response has been just wonderful.”