On the Opelousas Railroad, Louisiana
Harper's Weekly—December 8, 1866 

THE great feature of these Louisiana Swamps is the Spanish moss hanging in masses from the cypress-trees, whose gray trunk, towering up without a leaf for 70 or 80 feet, are draped with it in most fantastic style. The trees closing together at the top shut out the light, so that the weird and funereal aspect of the place is perfect, presenting a forbidding appearance sufficient to appall a stranger. In the slimy depths of the swamp—a net-work of bayous and pools—numbers of alligators exist, in company with turtles, snakes, etc. Birds and insects of brilliant colors dart through the sunny gleams that occasionally pierce the shadowy depths, where the white crane and shadowy heron stand sentinel among the sharp cypress knees, which grow up all around the parent trunks, and form no slight obstacle to him who, braving the mosquitoes and buffalo gnats, attempts to penetrate this domain. The pond-lily and many other aquatic plants grow luxuriantly in the ponds, filling the air with an overpowering fragrance unknown to their sweeter kindred growth. Inhospitable as they are, these swamps formed a secure place of refuge for many a persecuted Union man during the rebellion; and were, on the other hand, silent witnesses of more than one martyrdom to the Union cause.
A. R. W.

Cypress Swamp on the Opelousas Railroad, Louisiana—from a sketch by A. R. Ward

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