Every great city has a story. Breaux Bridge is no different. Back in 1771, Acadian pioneer Firmin Breaux began buying the land from which the present day city of Breaux Bridge would evolve. He purchased the land from Jean Francois Ledee, a wealthy New Orleans merchant who had acquired the land as a French land grant. By 1774, Breaux’s branding iron was registered and by 1786 he was one of the largest property owners in Teche country.
In 1799 Breaux built a footbridge across our beautiful Bayou Teche to help ease the passage for his family and neighbors. This first bridge was a suspension footbridge, likely made of rope and small planks. It was stabilized by being tied to small pilings located at each end of the bridge, as well as to a pair of huge live oak tress on both sides of the bayou. When traveling directions were given, folks would say “go to Breaux’s bridge…”, which eventually was adopted as the city’s name. In 1817, Firmin’s son Agricole built the first vehicular bridge, old photosallowing for the passage of wagons and increased commerce in the area. This bridge distinguished Breaux Bridge as the only city on Bayou Teche to evolve from both sides simultaneously. The town received its official founding in 1829 when Scholastique Picou Breaux, a strong and determined French speaking Acadian woman (and Agricole’s 33 year old widow), drew up plans for our city and began developing her property by selling lots to other Acadian settlers.
Settlers persevered through hardships associated with The Great Flood of 1927, The Great Depression, and numerous epidemics. The growth of the town’s population eventually necessitated the establishment of a church parish in 1847, and in 1859 Breaux Bridge was officially incorporated. One of Breaux Bridge’s main attractions is its cuisine, especially crawfish. Restaurants of Breaux Bridge were the first to offer crawfish openly on their menus, and it was here that the now world-famous crawfish etouffee was created. Breaux Bridge became so well known for its crawfish farming and cooking that, in honor of its centennial celebration in 1959, the Louisiana legislature officially designated Breaux Bridge as “la capitale Mondiale de l’ecrevisse” or “the crawfish capital of the world”. Since this designation, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Association has hosted the annual crawfish festival, recognized as one of the state’s finest festivals.
Two hundred years after Firmin built his bridge, we still have good neighbors, our bridge remains one of the highlights of our town and we remain a bilingual community, proud of our Cajun French ancestry.
Sources: Kenneth Delcambre, Breaux Bridge City Historian; Grover Rees, A Narrative History of Breaux Bridge; Jim Brad