There’s more to the hamlet of Galva on the southern bank of Pass Manchac at Lake Maurepas than meets the eyes of the speeding highway traveller. Historically, this strategic site at the intersection of Pass Manchac and Lake Maurepas was no doubt used by Indians, European colonists and American settlers making their way somewhere or who stayed put. In the Civil War there was a Union gun emplacement here named Fort Stevens at this location. It guarded the Pass from smugglers and kept an eye on the smoking ruins of the railroad bridge destroyed by the war. Galva later became the take-off and landing site for the three highway bridges crossing the Pass.
The name Galva was probably named for Galva, Illinois – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galva,_Illinois. The Illinois railroad men who built the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad here in the 1850s were famous for naming new places along their tracks. Another less likely possibility for where the name came from is Luigi Galvani, an Italian who discovered he could use electricity to make a frog’s severed legs jump. Also, galvanized steel or iron items coated in zinc gives them resistance to corrosion and galvanic corrosion happens when two dissimilar metals are in the presence of an electrolyte.
The SLU Turtle Cove Research Station office and classroom are located at the southern edge of town on the Galva Canal. The building, boat shed and parking lot are shared with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries that manages the Manchac Wildlife Management Area covering this part of the isthmus.
The approximately 3 mi. long Galva Canal was dug at the turn of the last century to extract the ancient cypress forest that grew here. A satellite view shows several star-burst scars on the lands that betray the “pull-boat method” used to drag the logs across the ground to a barge that took them to the mill. There are also feather shaped patterns that show where “dummy” railroad tracks were temporarily laid to take logs out by rail. In the second half of the Twentieth Century, salt water contaminated the area, the great forest that used to line the edge of Pass Manchac could not regenerate and has since converted into marsh.
The community now has a small seafood processing facility, a few homes, camps, boat sheds on the Galva Canal and a couple of nice establishments in the entertainment district downtown – the Gator’s Den (formerly Sportsman’s Lounge) and the Beacon Lakeside (formerly Jimmy Traylor’s camp) with its great view of the famous Bridges of Manchac.
TAKE A DIGITAL TOUR: Link to and zoom into this Google Map and “stroll around:”
Galva, LA during a hurricane moment.