Preserve America Community:
DeRidder, Louisiana, (population 10,109) is located in southwestern Louisiana. It was named for Ella DeRidder Dehouyen, the sister-in-law of a Dutch railroad financier who brought the first railroad to that part of Louisiana. Her family originally came from the small town of Geldermalsen, Netherlands, where she was one of 13 children.
The growth of the town is due to the Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad, later called the Kansas City Southern, which served DeRidder on the line from Kansas City to Port Arthur starting in 1896. By 1898, because of the influx of trains and railroad workers who had camped in the area, the town was established. In its early years, DeRidder consisted of 300 people, several small homes, sawmills, a hotel, and five small stores. DeRidder incorporated as a town in 1903. The timber industry has been the mainstay of DeRidder's economy throughout its history.
The city of DeRidder and the local Confederate veterans association annually host a reenactment of the Battle of Hickory Creek, a Civil War battle that opened the 1864 Red River campaign. The reenactment is held the last full weekend each February on a 120-acre farm in DeRidder, attracting more than 750 people, many from out-of-town. During the weekend, 1,100 students participate in the “School of the Student,” which provides area children with an opportunity to learn about military history. Learning stations provide information about flag history, infantry, cavalry, artillery, and camp life.
DeRidder is home to many properties on the National Register of Historic Places. The DeRidder Commercial Historic District, Beauregard Parish Courthouse, Beauregard Parish Jail, and the Beauregard Parish Training School are some of the properties listed in DeRidder.
The Beauregard Museum is located in the 1927 Kansas City Southern train depot. A retired ornamental Kansas City Southern caboose and a park are located on the property. The museum holds a collection of artifacts and photographs from DeRidder and Beauregard Parish history.
The museum is also the home to the Lois Loftin Doll Museum, which includes over 3000 dolls from around the world. The Annual Louisiana Doll Festival and Show takes place in cooperation with the doll museum. The festival includes a doll festival pageant, doll vendors, a car show, food vendors, antique and craft vendors, and the Tour de Beauregard bike ride.
For more information:
City of DeRidder: www.cityofderidder.org
Beauregard Parish Tourist Commission: www.beauparish.org/tourism
Posted August 3, 2009