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White Lighning Road

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I grew up in NW Louisiana near Arcadia and Homer.  In that area, LA 146 is referred to as the White Lightning Road.  I found this article in an archive of the Guardian-Journal, the local newspaper and thought that I would share this with the group.  It is from the October 6, 2005 edition of the paper.




White Lightning Meanders Through Hilly North La.


            White Lightning—it may evoke feelings of adventure, of moonshiners tearin' down the road with `revenooers' hot behind. 

            Anyone who lives in Claiborne Parish has heard of the White Lightning Road. And anyone who has lived in Claiborne Parish since the 1950s and 1960s knows why LA146 is called the White Lightning Road. But for those unfamiliar with its history,  some background on the White Light-ning Road may  be `enlightning.'

            Few of the generation that witnessed the birth of the White Lightning in the 1920s are still around. Their children have become today's `old folks' and are dying out, too.

            As to how the White Lightning Road got its name, a couple of generations ago brewing one's own liquor (making moonshine or "white lightning" or "corn likker") was common. Most parishes in North Louisiana between Ouachita and Bossier and south toward Natchitoches were dry. No alcohol could be sold. Making moonshine was not illegal. But selling "corn likker" was. That was bootlegging. Most arrests in dry parishes before the 1970s were for bootlegging.


But back to how the White Lightning got its name. It was in the 1920s that convicted bootleggers were put to work clearing and laying out the route of the White Lightning Road. So its laborers being mostly convicted bootleggers led to its name, White Lightning Road.

            Convicts used shovels, teams of mules, and slips and skids to clear and level the roadway. Leaning right, then left, stepping up, then down_LA 146 staggers for 30-something miles between Homer and Vienna. The convict roadbuilders cut down trees, dug out stumps, cleared underbrush, burned debris, leveled dips and rises_all without backhoes, graders, or bulldozers. A dirt road at first, after about 20 years it was covered with gravel. Back then, gravel was a major upgrade. Of course, it's been paved now for about 40 years.

            With more curves than a majorleague pitcher, the White Light-ning of today still bears the mark of its hooch heritage.

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Very interesting, SS55!    Thanx for sharing that with the folx.   This is the kind of thing that I find endlessly fascinating. 


Here's a little useless tidbit of information... My Dad's first cash-paying job, as a lad of 6-years old, was to carry gallon jugs of his uncle's moonshine 'whiskey' up from 'the holler' to a waiting car about 1/2-mile away.   He was paid a nickel a jug, and by the time he turned 7, he was carrying two at a time!   That money was some of only a very spare amount of cash in his area.    Most folx under 18-years old had NO Cash, unless they were in the moonshine business as was Dad (kinda).    Goods and services within the immediate area were acquired almost entirely by barter.   Of course that was more than a few years ago. 

This was in area of Southern Kentucky, which is now under TVA water.

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Thanks.  I thought this may be an interesting bit of history as NW Louisiana is not really an area that comes to mind when thinking about moonshine whiskey.


I also appreciate the story about your dad as moonshine got was one of the few ways to earn cash in that region.  My dad grew up around Jackson, KY (Specifically, Lost Creek) and he would tell me the story of going squirrel hunting and meeting a neighbor at the head of the holler.  If the neighbor told him that the hunting was no good up that holler and that he should try the one over, then he knew he had a still up the holler and was warning him to stay away.





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Rumor has it that my county, right now, has one of the largest number of stills per capita.  My creek out back sometimes runs and sometimes not; I wonder where all that water could be going.....

(we also apparently have a lot of pot fields as well)

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