Thursday, September 07, 2006
What's the difference between a bayou and a river?
[Click on pictures to enlarge]
This is Bayou Lafourche (prounounced la-foosh) near Napoleonville, Louisiana. It starts at Donaldsonville and runs down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Originally some of the Mississippi River water was diverted into the bayou. A dam was built in 1905 cutting off its major water supply. Without that it becomes the lazy little stream you see here. (link to Bayou Lafourche)
A lot of these bayous have homes, large and small, alongside. Most of these homes have small boats or pirogues (link) (pronounced pee-row) tied to a side dock. We didn't see any of these where we were.
Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou
[Hank William's Jambalaya song-link]
This is the Mississippi River, the longest river in the U.S.
It starts in Minnesota at Lake Itasca (link to Wikipedia discussion) and ends also in the Gulf of Mexico.
[Picture--Image:Lake Itasca Mississippi Source.jpg--courtessy of the Wikimedia Commons.]
The largest bayou may be the Houston Ship Channel, which is the lower end of Buffalo Bayou (link), dredged out.
Houston's is often called the Bayou City because of its many bayous.
[So called "primarily because of the massive, muddy, miles-long Buffalo Bayou that twists and turns its way through the fourth largest city in the United States. Other major bayous in Houston include Brays Bayou, Sims Bayou, White Oak Bayou, and Greens Bayou." Wikipedia, Bayou]
I have a good friend who is an old rice farmer in Arkansas. He pronounces bayou as "bow" like to bow your head.
"Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou" --Jambalaya, Hank Williams
I've seen some of those bayous in Houston that you named, and they too looked like big ditches.
So my guess is that a bayou is a ditch.
Napoleonville has a population of 689 (2005 estimate).
A few years back I was in Baton Rouge and a group of people took me "up the bayou". To tell you the truth I thought there was only one. Thanks for the lesson.
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