Donaldsonville, Louisiana, an historic town on the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge that dates to 1806 and once was used by the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte as his headquarters, is touted as the "Gateway to Cajun and Plantation Country." Situated on highway 1, it is a few miles south of Nottoway, the largest and grandest antebellum mansion of all, and a few miles north of highway 18, the fabled River Road that goes to Oak Alley, St. Joseph, Laurel, Evergreen and other famous plantations on the Mississippi River. It is the largest town south of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Most of all, it resembles the more celebrated Natchez, Mississippi, with its proximity to antebellum houses and presence of churches and synagogues, taverns, parks, restaurants, saloons, art galleries, antique shops, cemeteries and other historic buildings. A map of downtown Donaldsonville, available almost anywhere, details the many historical, architectural and religious sites scattered throughout the community. One site reveals the square of ground where Louisiana's state capitol was selected to be built in 1825. And you walk along the levee, only a block from the downtown area, and take pictures of the ships going up and down the Mississippi River. In many ways, it is like walking the streets of Galena, Illinois.
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