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The Hurricane of 1856, Louisiana's First Great Storm

Last Days of Last Island

  • The 1856 summer season was like so many that had come before- uneventful, idyllic. The South's newest and most popular watering spot was a microcosm of Louisiana's antebellum economic and social structure. More than four hundred vacationers- wealthy sugar planters, powerful politicians, their families, friends, and servants- had come to Last Island to escape the hot August sun. The waters of the Gulf were cool, its breezes fresh. Life was good.

    On the horizon, however, a massive cloud formation was about to tell a much different story. On that fateful day, August 10, 1856, a devastating Category Four hurricane destroyed the island. After more than 150 years- and the devastation of Katrina- the story remains layered with myths.  Last Days of Last Island removes that shroud and presents the first comprehensive account of the hurricane of 1856.

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