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Sulphur, Louisiana

Hammond/Tangipahoa Parish

See gators, savor beignets and relive history in a Louisiana crossroads

Rich in history and surrounded by bayou wilderness, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, has rightfully earned a place on the map. The National Register of Historic Places has taken notice, designating several buildings as significant structures. Foodies also know this town for its ample strawberries, succulent beignets and other bayou treats. Lovers of the outdoors trek here for adventures in the Pelican State’s unparalleled wetlands. Fans of wildlife will get their fill of sightings of gators — the area boasts a healthy population of the toothy reptiles.

Strawberries in January and Beyond

Tangipahoa Parish boasts the distinction of growing one of the most popular berries on the planet. The bountiful strawberry farms throughout the area are magnets for agritourists; head to Ponchatoula, a former logging camp that grew to become the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” to satisfy your sweet tooth. Beginning in January each year, Ponchatoula grows, processes and then ships strawberries across the country. Several farms open the doors to give tourists a taste of a homegrown harvest that bursts with sweetness.

When not sampling tasty strawberries, explore Hammond, the largest town in Tangipahoa Parish. Located 45 miles east of Baton Rouge and 58 miles north of New Orleans, Hammond gives its visitors a chance to sample all sides of Louisiana living.

Changing Hands Between Multiple Nations in the Bayou

Native Americans, French, Spanish and British have all had a say in the development of the areas in and around Hammond. When French settlers arrived in the region, Tangipahoa people were already well-established. In the local language, “Tangipahoa” translates to “ear of corn” or “those who gather corn,” referring to the local Native Americans. After changing hands multiple times, the region officially became part of the United States in 1803, when Louisiana became U.S. territory.

Hammond’s founder, Peter Hammond, settled in the area in 1818. A Swedish sailor who once served time in a British prison during the Napoleonic Wars, Hammond founded a tree plantation that sparked the economic growth of the area. Today, a massive oak tree in town marks Hammond’s gravesite.

The town is known for its elegant, historic structures that line its streets. Hammond’s downtown is among at least four in Tangipahoa Parish listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the 1912 train depot, a Queen Ann-inspired structure that serves as the office for the local chamber of commerce. Hammond also is home to Southeastern Louisiana University, which draws more than 15,000 students from around the world.

Today, the modern-day train routes that bring several tourists to town had their beginnings with the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railway, which came through the area beginning in 1854. These transportation arteries helped thrust Hammond into the spotlight as a commercial and transport center for Tangipahoa Parish.

In addition to getting a sense of its history, visitors to Hammond can also enjoy vibrant arts and culture venues. Buy a ticket at the Columbia Theatre, host to performing arts and film events throughout the year. The building’s art deco design transports patrons to an era of glamour and elegance.

Richard David Ramsey

Giraffes and Confederate Soldiers

Nearby attractions include Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, about 24 miles to the east. Here, visitors can take a safari wagon on a trip across a landscape populated by giraffes, kangaroos, zebras and other exotic creatures.

About 30 miles to the north, the Camp Moore Confederate Cemetery and Museum preserves one of the most tragic chapters in United States history. Once a rebel training camp, more than 35,000 soldiers passed through this property’s gates before joining battle with Union troops across the nation. The complex now serves as a cemetery, and an informative museum retraces the journeys taken by so many sons of the South. Lighten the mood by traveling just 4 miles to the north, where the Kentwood Historical and Cultural Arts Museum serves as a shrine to hometown singing sensation, Britney Spears.

While in the area, check out the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum. Highlights include an exhibit honoring the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers, who fought in the American West.

Go See Gators

No trip to Tangipahoa Parish is complete without seeing the alligators. These resident reptiles of Louisiana date back more than 150 million years. When poachers threatened Louisiana’s alligator population with near extinction, conservation efforts have helped the numbers to reach nearly 2 million today.

Alligators are an integral part of the wildlife that has made Louisiana attractive to scientists, everyday nature lovers and Hollywood directors eager to film real-life monsters. Several productions of movies and television shows used Hammond, Ponchatoula and Tangipahoa Parish areas for location shoots. Many of Louisiana’s professional alligator hunters live in and around Tangipahoa Parish.

To see alligators, visit Kliebert’s Alligator and Turtle Farm right in Hammond, open March through October. About 30 miles east of Hammond, the Insta-Gator Ranch in Covington displays alligators in crystal-clear water in a climate-controlled environment. The working alligator ranch is populated by more than 2,000 of the reptiles, and guided tours give visitors insights into the Louisiana alligator industry.

For More Information

Tangipahoa Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau



Louisiana Office of Tourism