Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hammond, Louisiana

The city is named for Peter Hammond, a Swedish immigrant, who first settled the area around 1818. Hammond is buried on the east side of town under the Hammond Oak along with his wife, three daughters and a favorite slave.

In 1854, the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad (now the Illinois Central Railroad) came to Hammond, launching the city's continuing role as a commercial and transport center. During the American Civil War, the city was a shoemaking center for the Confederacy and it later became a major shipping point for strawberries, earning it the title of "the Strawberry Capital of America". Today, it sits at the intersections of Interstates 12 and 55.

Its 19th century shoemaking industry was the work of Charles Emery Cate, who bought land in the city in 1860 for a home, a shoe factory, tannery and sawmill. Toward the end of the war, Cate laid out the city grid, using the rail line as a guide and naming several of the streets after his sons. After the American Civil War, light industry and commercial activities were attracted to the town, and by the end of the century the town had become a stopping point for northerners traveling south and for New Orleanians heading north to escape summer yellow fever outbreaks