Hodges Gardens State Park
|Hodges Gardens State Park|
A view of A. J. Hodges Island.
Map of Louisiana, United States of America
|Location||Sabine Parish, Louisiana, United States of America|
|Area||approx. 700 acres (2.8 km2; 1.1 sq mi) |
|Governing body||Louisiana Office of State Parks|
Hodges Gardens State Park, previously known as Hodges Gardens, Park and Wilderness Area, is located on 4,700 acres (19 km2) between Florien and Hornbeck, near the Toledo Bend Reservoir of the Sabine River in Sabine Parish, in west central Louisiana. The park is located on U.S. Highway 171 some fifteen miles (24 km) south of Many, the seat of Sabine Parish. The facility offers walking trails, formal gardens, arboretum, the Azalea Overlook, waterfalls, and a visitor center. Originally, privately developed during the 1940s and opened to the public in 1956. The park was formally dedicated on May 1, 1959 and transferred to a non-profit foundation in 1960. In April 2007, it became part of the Louisiana public parks system. It is the largest horticultural park and recreation area in the United States and with the acquisition Hodges Garden became the newest park in Louisiana.
The area was once home to bands of Indians, Spanish and French Explorers, and Highwaymen that were prominent during the time of the Neutral Strip (Louisiana). A road known as the El Camino Real, or the King's Highway, passed through what became Hodges Garden, and across the Sabine River at Gain's Ferry. It originated in Natchitoches, crossed west central Louisiana, through Texas to Mexico City.
A.J. Hodges, a native of Cotton Valley in Webster Parish, purchased over 100,000 acres (400 km2) of cut-over barren land and replanted 39,000 acres (160 km2) in timber. The land included an old quarry and he and his wife, the former Nona Trigg, planned a scenic garden around the natural rock formations. The quarry had been used to supply rocks, stones, and sandstone to build, among other things, the jetties in Port Arthur. Work began on the jetties in 1898 and material from the quarry was delivered by wagon that would have been at least a six-day round trip. Water from a 225-acre (0.91 km2) lake created in 1954 is pumped through the gardens to waterfalls, pools, a geyser, fountains, and to the watering system before it is recycled back into the lake. Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, head of the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Department, said that the state signed a transfer agreement with the Hodges Foundation. Landrieu, who leaves the lieutenant governorship in May 2010 to become mayor of New Orleans, noted that Andrew Jackson Hodges, Sr. (1890–1966), "took a barren 700-acre (2.8 km2) stone quarry and turned it into a thriving tourist area. The state’s takeover of the park will restore the garden’s original beauty, upgrade accommodations, and ultimately add value to this economic asset."
The park includes 925 acres (3.74 km2) referred to as Hodges Gardens, and features 60 acres (240,000 m2) of gardens, a 225-acre (0.9 km2), that includes a lighthouse, bass fishing lake, hiking and biking trails, and RV and wilderness camping.
Services and amenities
- Bicycle Riding
- Bird Watching
- Boating (Boat rental)
- Lodge (Accommodates up to 52)
- Canoeing (Canoe Rental)
- Fishing (Fishing Pier)
- Kayaking (Kayak Rental)
- Lookout Tower
- Tent Area
- Wildlife Viewing
Things to see
Many plants and flowers are grown in tropical greenhouses on the property and some flowers like tulips, hyacinths, & daffodils were imported to add variety for visitors. Flowers were planted on one level above another. Views of water lilies, Neoregelia, Holly Berries. In December, 2007 a reported 600 Rose bushes were planted. Easter Sunrise Services, Shakespearean Plays, concerts, 4 July Fireworks and more are planned.
There are walkways, foot bridges, streams, waterfalls, overlooks including the lookout tower, and more. From the overlook Texas can be viewed that is over 14 miles (23 km) away. A dual stairway has a cascading waterfall down the center, many fountains spewing water into the air, and trees adorned with Spanish moss.
Pictures from the gardens
|Hodges Gardens State Park|
The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism and the Office of State Parks now operate the gardens. Renovations are underway to existing structures. Hodges Gardens opened its renovated and rewired cabins on March 20, 2008. Camping facilities became available in the summer of 2008.
Hodges Gardens technically operates as a cooperative between the Office of State Parks and the A. J. and Nona Triggs Hodges Foundation. Funds for the operation are uncertain after July 1, 2017. Mayor Kenneth Freeman of Many has called a community meeting for March 23 to discuss ways to preserve Hodges Gardens, which he indicated he has visited several times a year since he was eight years old in 1964. "Every time I go I see something new and beautiful I don't want to lose that for future generations, not to mention the economic impact it would have on our local economies," Freeman said. He urged area residents to patronize the park on a regular basis.
- "Hodges Gardens State Park - Louisiana Office of State Parks". Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Hodges Garden info". Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- "Hodges Gardens". Retrieved January 30, 2011.
- Louisiana State Parks Crossroads Brochure. Louisiana State Parks. 2007.
- "Weekly list of actions 7/13/15 through 7/17/15". National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
- Leigh Guidry. "Future of treasured state park is in jeopardy". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
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