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Lake Providence History

Adjacent to the Mississippi river, Lake Providence is the parish seat of East Carroll Parish in northeast Louisiana. The Town of Lake Providence was incorporated in 1848 as Providence.  It was a trading post on the Mississippi between the river ports of New Orleans and Memphis during the 1700’s.  According to legend, heavy pirate activity around the post was most precarious for traders and if a trader managed to escape, it as called an “act of Providence”.  Whether or not the legend is true the town became prosperous as cotton grew into a high value commodity and commerce bustled along the Mississippi river.

Lake Providence, like many southern towns, would play a role in the U.S. Civil War.  In 1863 under the leadership of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, troops dug a canal connecting the lake and Mississippi river. The area and now neighborhood known as “Soldiers’ Rest” was to be a permanent supply depot and base of operations for the Vicksburg, Mississippi campaign and possible location to assist Major General Nathaniel Banks during the Port Hudson, Louisiana campaign.  General Grant would eventually decide Lake Providence was not an ideal location and he moved  his troops further south towards Milikin’s Bend in Madison Parish.  However despite this decision, the flooded waterways created by the canal in Lake Providence had the unforeseen result of being a barrier against Confederate raids.

In 1918 the town would officially add Lake to its name.  The official change to Lake Providence was done to eliminate confusion with Providence, Rhode Island.