Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Theory About Shotguns

In the world of shotgun houses New Orleans and Louisville reign supreme. I have a theory why but no empirical or historical smoking gun to prove it. Louisville and New Orleans are connected by a stretch of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers that was navigable without interruption when both towns were in their early development. No dams, locks, waterfalls or other obstructions kept a flatboat built in Louisville and launched from Portland Kentucky from making it's way down to New Orleans. My theory goes like this...

Rough and rowdy river men would load a flat boat barge full of corn, whiskey, agricultural products or some other cargo in Portland Kentucky and raft it down river to New Orleans, one of the largest shipping ports in the Americas, where the goods were sold and shipped to other places in the world. These flatboats were built of poplar, oak, maple and the other abundant hardwoods of the Ohio River Valley by men handy with saws and planes and hammers. Once the cargo was sold and the barge men paid for their effort the flat boats were disassembled by these same men and sold as lumber for a bit of extra profit before making their return journey north by coach and horseback and foot. Some of these men, in hopes of making even more profit, would sign on as carpenters with building crews in New Orleans that were building shotgun homes out of the old flatboat lumber. These men, armed with the knowledge and experience of building shotgun homes in New Orleans, eventually made their way back to Kentucky bringing the architectural styles of New Orleans with them.

Having lived in both towns I find them amazingly similar in many other respects as well. But all in all, I would rather be a Kaintock than a flatlander.

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