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Cameron Parish, Louisiana
Map of Louisiana highlighting Cameron Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the U.S. highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded 1870
Named for Secretary of War Simon Cameron
Seat Cameron
Largest city Cameron
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,932 sq mi (5,003 km²)
1,313 sq mi (3,401 km²)
619 sq mi (1,602 km²), 32.03%
 - (2010)
 - Density

8/sq mi (3/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Cameron Parish (French: Paroisse de Cameron) is the parish with the most land area in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Cameron and as of 2010, the population was 6,839. It is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Cameron Parish is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Lake Charles–Jennings Combined Statistical Area.

History[edit | edit source]

Organized in 1870 from parts of Calcasieu and Vermillion 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 Hale, James Root, and John M. Miller.[1]

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[2] 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",[3] published 40 years after the storm. Tales of tragedy and heroism emerged with the heavy press coverage following the devastation.[4] 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.[5] Audrey 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. The movie 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.[6] Nearly every square inch of the coastline in that area was flooded heavily, with surge and floodwaters reaching 60 miles inland,[7] as far north as Lake Charles.[8] In Cameron Parish the communities of Cameron, Holly Beach, Hackberry, Creole, and Grand Chenier were essentially destroyed.[9] Hundreds of people had to be rescued from atop rooftops,[9] 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.[10]

Geography[edit | edit source]

The parish has a total area of 1,932 square miles (5,003.9 km2), of which 1,313 square miles (3,400.7 km2) is land and 619 square miles (1,603.2 km2) (32.03%) is water.

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Adjacent parishes[edit | edit source]

National protected areas[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 9,991 people, 3,592 households, and 2,704 families residing in the parish. The population density was 8 people per square mile (3/km²). There were 5,336 housing units at an average density of 4 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 93.65% White, 3.88% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 2.15% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 11.57% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 1.83% speak Spanish.[1]

Census Pop.
1900 3,952
1910 4,288 8.5%
1920 3,952 −7.8%
1930 6,054 53.2%
1940 7,203 19.0%
1950 6,244 −13.3%
1960 6,909 10.7%
1970 8,194 18.6%
1980 9,336 13.9%
1990 9,260 −0.8%
2000 9,991 7.9%
2010 6,839 −31.5%
Cameron Parish Census Data[12]

There were 3,592 households out of which 39.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.20% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.70% were non-families. 20.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the parish the population was spread out with 28.40% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 29.60% from 25 to 44, 21.90% from 45 to 64, and 10.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 100.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.40 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $34,232, and the median income for a family was $39,663. Males had a median income of $31,167 versus $19,113 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,348. About 9.10% of families and 12.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.10% of those under age 18 and 14.80% of those age 65 or over.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Census-designated places[edit | edit source]

Map of Cameron Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels

(There are no incorporated municipalities in Cameron Parish.)

Other communities[edit | edit source]

Education[edit | edit source]

Cameron Parish School Board operates local public schools.

Cameron Parish Public Library is a public library system in Cameron Parish. All of the libraries are located in unincorporated areas.

The main Cameron Parish Library is at 469 Marshall Street in the Cameron CDP.[13]

The system operates six branches:[14]

  • Creole Branch at 184C East Creole Highway in the Creole area
  • Grand Chenier Branch at 2867 Grand Chenier Highway in the Grand Chenier area
  • Grand Lake Branch at 961 Highway 384 in the Grand Lake area
  • Hackberry Branch at 983 Main Street in the Hackberry CDP
  • Johnson Bayou Branch at 4586 Gulf Beach Highway in the Johnson Bayou area
  • Lowry Branch at 460 Lowry Highway in the Lowry area

Notable people from Cameron Parish[edit | edit source]

  • James Belton Bonsall, painter, born on April 1, 1926 in Grand Chenier in Cameron Parish.
  • Dr. Cecil Clark (1924–1994), recipient of the 1957 American Medical Association's "General Practitioner of the Year" award.
  • Crain Brothers, developers of specialized equipment , including the “marsh buggy”, that improve operations and travel in marsh lands, is a multi-generational company started in Grand Chenier by the Crain family in 1929.
  • Bob Hensgens, Republican state representative from Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
  • Doug Kershaw, musician, was born January 24, 1936

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Perrin, W.H. 1891. Southwest Louisiana biographical and historical. Reprinted 1971. Claitor's Publishing Division, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ross, N.M. and S.M. Goodson. 1997. Hurricane Audrey. Wise Publications, Sulphur, Louisiana. ISBN 1-887144-08-0.
  4. ^ Life Magazine. 1957. Hurricane season starts early - and it's deadly. Life 43(2):8-13.
  5. ^ THE GENERAL PRACTITIONER'S AWARD. 1957. J Am Med Assoc. 165(16):2089.
  6. ^ Margaret Saizan. "A Visual Story of Hurricane Rita". Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007. 
  7. ^ Mega Surge
  8. ^ Surge floodwaters
  9. ^ a b Associated Press (2008-09-14). "Most of Louisiana’s Coast Still Flooded by Ike". KALB-TV. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  10. ^ Search and Rescue Operations Coordinated by LDWF Transport 363 Residents to Safety During Hurricane Ike's Pass Through State, September 16, 2008
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Louisiana Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  13. ^ "Louisiana Library Directory." State Library of Louisiana. Accessed September 22, 2008.
  14. ^ "CAMERON PARISH LIBRARY BRANCHES." Cameron Parish Public Library. April 6, 2005.

External links[edit | edit source]


Coordinates: 29°51′N 93°12′W / 29.85, -93.20

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