Who bottled Coca-Cola for the first time? While residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee, will argue that Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead did the deed, it was actually Joseph A. Biedenharn, who made his home in Monroe after being the first person to successfully bottle Coke in his Vicksburg, Mississippi, confectionary in 1894. Coca-Cola gave rights to Thomas and Whitehead, but not until 1899. The Biedenharn family home, now the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, has a Coke Museum, featuring two exhibit rooms full of Coca-Cola memorabilia and historical items. Take that, Chattanooga!
After Hurricane Katrina, the Landry family relocated its winery from Folsom to higher ground in West Monroe. Landry Vineyards now sits on a 20-acre site that includes the winery, vineyards and tasting room. The vineyard sells its fine Louisiana wines on site, online and in more than 300 stores throughout the state, and it hosts outdoor concerts from March to October each year.
Long before the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe came into being, the property was a private residence. Lumberman Clarence Edward Slagle built the modified Tudor estate for his wife, Mabel Chauvin, in 1929 using Indiana limestone and Pennsylvania blue slate shipped on various waterways to the Ouachita River, which the property borders. The Slagle family sold to Sigmund and Beatrice Masur in the early 1930s, and their children donated their home to the city for an arts museum in 1963. It is now the largest visual arts museum in northeast Louisiana.
Ouachita Wildlife Management Area in Monroe allows hunting and trapping of certain game species by permit, but not the Louisiana black bear. The animal holds “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act. Killing a Louisiana black bear violates federal and state laws and can result in fines up to $100,000, loss of hunting privileges and/or jail. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries even offers cash rewards for information on illegal hunting. So don’t poke the bear; you might just end up in trouble with the law.
Revolution Park Racing & Entertainment Complex in Monroe encourages drivers to put the pedal to the metal around the track. In the pit area, though, they must observe the 5 mph speed limit. Other rules for the pit include no alcoholic beverages, animals, weapons or skateboards, as well as no barbecuing without permission. All sound like excellent ways to keep drivers, crew and fans safe.
Antique lovers looking to shop till they drop without putting much mileage on their shoes head to Antique Alley in West Monroe. The five-block stretch features more than 50 stores! Located on Trenton Street in the Cotton Port Historic District downtown, shops typically open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Food stores, restaurants and inns also can be found for refueling purposes.
Delta airlines’ history begins in Monroe. Huff Daland Dusters, which specialized in aerial crop dusting, sold its dusting operations to town businessmen in 1928, becoming Delta Air Service. The company began passenger service a year later, offering a route from Dallas, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, with stops in Shreveport and Monroe along the way. Delta headquarters remained in Monroe until 1941, when it moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Delta Air Lines now serves more than 160 million passengers each year with routes to more 340 destinations in nearly 60 countries on six continents. Monroe will take a little bit of the credit for such success.
Already a pro on Monroe and Delta Airlines' history? Check out these fun facts about Montgomery.