Bogalusa History

Residences, Industrial Section, Bogalusa, La - small

The Great Southern Lumber Company (1906–38) mill was opened here in 1906, and the Goodyear (Frank Henry Goodyear and Charles Waterhouse Goodyear) interests of New York built a city around it that same year, to house workers for their sawmill. William H. Sullivan, the sawmill manager for the Goodyears, was town boss when the city was built (1906–1907) and then mayor until he died June 26, 1929. The city, designed by New Orleans architect Rathbone DeBuys and built from nothing in less than a year, with several hotels, a YMCA and YWCA, churches of all faiths, and houses for the workers and supervisors, was called the Magic City due to its rapid construction. Bogalusa was incorporated as a city on July 4, 1914. At its peak, the city had over 20,000 residents.

The Great Southern Lumber Company’s sprawling sawmill produced up to 1,000,000 board feet (2400 m3) of lumber a day. The sawmill closed in 1938, but was replaced as the city’s main industry by a paper mill and a chemical plant run by Gaylord Container Corp. The Crown Zellerbach Corp. acquired Gaylord’s operations in 1955. An attempt to keep the sawmill open with California redwood proved too costly, and the mill was closed. Crown Zellerbach was the target of a hostile takeover in 1985, and the succeeding company for its container division was a new Gaylord Container Corporation, which operated for 16 years until acquired by Temple-Inland in 2002.

In the mid-1960s, Bogalusa was a center of activity for the Deacons for Defense and Justice.

In 1995 a railroad tank car imploded at Gaylord Chemical Corporation, releasing nitrogen tetroxide and forced the evacuation of about 3,000 people within a one-mile (1.6 km) radius. Residents say “the sky turned orange” as a result. Emergency rooms filled with about 4,000 people who complained of burning eyes, skin, and lungs. Dozens of lawsuits were filed against Gaylord Chemical and were finally settled in May 2005, with compensation checks issued to around 20,000 people involved in the accident.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit this city with winds of about 125 mph (200 km/h), downing numerous trees and power lines. Many buildings in Bogalusa received damage from falling trees, and several were destroyed. Most of the houses, businesses, and other buildings suffered roof damage from the storm’s ferocious winds. Some outlying areas of the city were without power for over a month.

Bogalusa (top) in regional map, northeast of Baton Rouge and Hammond, north ofNew Orleans.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogalusa,_Louisiana