LONG LEAF, La. (KALB) - In the travel business, there is a phrase you can hear quite often called a “hidden gem.” Down in the small community of Long Leaf, Louisiana, near Forest Hill, there is one of the shiniest gems in Down Home Louisiana.
It’s an old machine shop that doubles as a time machine.
It’s an old train that is a vehicle to the past.
The Southern Forest Heritage Museum is a lot of things. It offers an almost overwhelming amount of history across its 60 acres.
At the start of the 20th century, the timber that rebuilt America after the Civil War came from the sawmill on the grounds. It also produced the wood needed to build the famous boats designed by Andrew Higgins that helped win WW2.
Now, the sawmill is still intact and serves as the perfect backdrop for weddings and private parties. In fact, the museum’s wedding package is among the only in the south that includes the option for the Bride to arrive in style on an old M-4 Railbus train.
The train’s engine dates back to 1936 and drives as if it was brand new along the longest non-commercial train track in Louisiana. It goes throughout the property and can forward and in reverse. The track is built on a slight incline, so as the machinery travels backwards, it can idle back to the station.
The museum is constantly expanding. Back in April, 2016, the newest exhibit was launched highlight FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps program that helped supply jobs during the Great Depression. The “CCC” was very active throughout Louisiana and even built the building that houses the exhibit back in the 30’s.
The exhibit features films, displays and an interactive touch screen interface loaded with information and media.
In addition to the CCC experience, there are other new exhibits on the horizon for the Southern Forest Heritage Museum. It was just given a large collection of WW2 memorabilia and plans to open an attraction based off of the gift in the coming months.
For more information on how you can visit or volunteer at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, visit http://www.forestheritagemuseum.org/