The Times-Picayune is marking the tricentennial of New Orleans with its ongoing 300 for 300 project, running through 2018 and highlighting the moments and people that connect and inspire us. Today, the series continues with the rise and fall of New Orleans’ camp culture along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

THEN: Once upon a time, the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain consisted of so much unused swampland. Then, in 1831,¬†the Pontchartrain Railroad¬†began running, covering the five miles from Faubourg Marigny to the lakefront village known as Milneberg. In addition to becoming a booming entertainment district, as well as a cradle for the burgeoning art form of jazz, Milneburg by 1900 had spawned a sprawling colony of fishing camps built on piers over the lake. In its heyday, and well into the 20thcentury, hundreds of camps lined the shoreline along the lakefront, offering locals a taste of escape from the city and — given the lack of beaches in south Louisiana — giving rise to a uniquely New Orleans form of weekend and summer retreat.

NOW: While fishing camps still proliferate on the north shore of the lake and along various South Louisiana bayous, the days of camp life on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans proper — just a 15-minute drive from downtown — ended in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the last of the camps there, finishing a demolition job started by 1998’s Hurricane Georges. Where an assortment of camps once lined the shores, all that was left after the storms were naked pilings, open water and wistful memories of a bygone era.

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