Pollock, Louisiana

Growing For The Future 

History of Pollock

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The Town of Pollock, Louisiana was officially formed in 1892, but the Central Louisiana area nestled in the Kisatchie National Forest north of the Red River was inhabited by Native Americans long before the first Caucasians came to the area.  Vast numbers of Choctaw Indian artifacts that have been found near local streams bear witness to this fact.  The artifacts indicate that the Native American population was widespread and very probably much larger at one time than any written records of explorers have indicated.  From 1780, until Caucasian settlers arrived, the Choctaw Tribe prospered and grew around the area now known as Pollock.  They lived mainly around the Big Creek and Little River areas.  Early Caucasian settlers in the area reported that there were many Native Americans of the Choctaw Tribe living as civilized, friendly, and peaceful people, among the Caucasian folks.  Many of the Native Americans remained in the Pollock area, and their characteristics can be detected among the citizens of Pollock even today.

Long before any railroads, mills, or businesses were built in the area we now know as Pollock, a small pioneer post office called Oction was built.  It was located on a little road just off the famous Natchez Trace (also known as the Camino Real), and was the focal point for the few scattered settlers who lived in the area.  The original Caucasian settlers of Oction, now known as Pollock, migrated chiefly from Mississippi and Alabama along the Natchez Trace.  Today, wagon ruts and other signs of the Natchez Trace can still be seen in the Pollock area.  The settlers of Oction were extremely opposed to slavery and the Civil War, and refused to own slaves or servants of African descent.  Following the Colfax Riot after the Civil War, the few individuals of African descent who were living in the Oction area at that time departed.  During the 1864 Red River Campaign of the Civil War, one skirmish occurred in present-day Pollock.  Confederate troops camped on a hill behind the current site of Pollock Elementary discovered a Union engineering division on its way to Alexandria to assist in the building of Bailey's Dam.  The Union troops had encamped themselves near the site where Woodshaven Nursing Home now stands.  Once the Confederate troops discovered enemy troops in the area, cannon and gunfire quickly commenced.  The skirmish ended with the Union troops fleeing for safer ground.  The skirmish, over the years, has become known as the Battle of Oction Hill.

The oldest remaining residence in Pollock is the stately Oction House.  It was built by one of the early settlers to the area, Mr. Levi B. Parker, in 1861.  Mr. Parker was granted 161½ acres by Abraham Lincoln and built an Acadian style 15 foot by 17 foot, one room, one story house of thick rough-cut cypress.  Soon thereafter, Parker added a second 15 foot by 13 foot room the the house he aptly named Oction House.  Much of the Battle of Oction Hill took place on the properties owned by Mr. Parker, and very near his modest home.  As luck would have it, the two room house was spared.  History has it that Oction House served as a "safe house" for runaway slaves throughout the Civil War period.  Later, it would serve as home to the first Mayor of Pollock, E. Fletcher Kelly, under the original charter of 1910.  Today, the original structure serves as the rear portion of the three story Greek Revival addition built in 1912 by Sheriff L.O. Clinton.  Oction House is the largest residence in Pollock.  It is located on Highway 8 West near Pollock Elementary School.  The elegant 8,000 square feet, 21 room mansion has served as home to many prominent families, as well as local, parish, and state officials.

The real history of Pollock, Louisiana began with the building of a railroad through the area by Jay Gould, New York capitalist and millionaire, shrewd business tycoon, and railroad magnate.  Gould was given more than 30,000 acres of land, richly forested with virgin pine timber, in Louisiana and Arkansas for which he, in return, would build his Iron Mountain Railroad from Memphis, Tennessee to Alexandria, Louisiana.  The Iron Mountain construction was begun in 1889.  In 1892, Gould built the Big Creek Sawmill and Lumber Company at the present site of Pollock.  The huge sawmill was the largest pine mill in the entire world, and concentrated exclusively on producing moneymaking, cream-of-the-crop bridge caps and girders.  The town proper that sprang up in 1892 around the sawmill was named Pollock in honor of the manager of the Big Creek Sawmill and Lumber Company, Captain John William Pollock.  With the huge sawmill being fed from the great virgin lands of short and long leaf pine timber, work, money, people, hotels, businesses, homes, and industries poured into Pollock.  Following Jay Gould's death, Big Creek Sawmill and Lumber Company was owned and operated by his son until it and most of the town of Pollock was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1906.  The town of Pollock slowly began to rebuild, and Jay Gould's son sold the remaining timberlands to James F. Ball, who operated a new and much smaller lumber mill, the Iron Mountain Lumber Company and Sawmill, in Pollock until 1922, when the virgin timber supply began to deplete.  Since then, various even smaller mills have operated in and around Pollock.

As the town of Pollock rose from the ashes and put its pieces back together following the disastrous 1906 fire, James F. Walker's Store, originally a two-story wooden structure on Patterson Street (named for Samuel Patterson, brother-in-law of Captain John W. Pollock, and the second manager of the Big Creek Sawmill and Lumber Company), was rebuilt as a red brick building.  Walker's Store is today the home of the Town of Pollock Police Department and Courthouse.  In 1907, the Bank of Pollock was chartered, and a beautiful two story red brick building was built on Patterson Street near the train depot in 1908.  The lumber used in the construction of the Bank of Pollock structure came from the Big Creek Sawmill and Lumber Company.  This lumber from heart pine was of the best quality, and it still stands today after 100 years.  The red brick used in the Bank of Pollock construction was probably shipped from the St. Louis Brick Company.  The white brick used in later years on the front façade enclosing the arch to meed the front doors of the Bank of Pollock came from the local brick factory and kiln then located behind the Pollock Cemetery.  The Bank of Pollock, built with a trap door in its roof, operated from 1908 until 1928.  Mr. George Foster, Sr. served as President.  On the second floor of the Bank of Pollock, there was located a telegraph office, provisions for living quarters, a set-up system for applying for and filing legal documents, a Clerk of Court's office, the office of Notary Public, and other installations for facilitating important legal transactions in the Town of Pollock.  In 1928, the affairs of the Bank of Pollock were liquidated due to bank failure.  This was not an unusual experience, as banking holidays, bank failures, and bank liquidations were common occurrences in those hard depression days.  Throughout the years, the Bank of Pollock structure served many purposes, including being used as the local school when the Pollock School was destroyed by a tornado.  Its ownership has changed hands many times over the years as well, and it is currently owned by the Town of Pollock.  Jerome Fred Scott, long-time Town Councilman, and presently the longest serving Mayor of the Town of Pollock, has been instrumental in securing thousands of dollars in private and public grants for the complete renovation of the majestic old Bank of Pollock building.  Once the exterior and interior of the building is brought back to its original beauty and grandeur, a portion of the building will be used by the Town of Pollock as an arts and cultural center and museum.

The Town of Pollock has been the filming location for three movies.  In 2007 Last Getaway, and in 2009 The Inherited, both feature horror films produced by Roaming Armadillo Productions, used locations within and around the town.  In 2012, the experimental film “R” used a section of the Pollock Town Hall as a location.  Over the past half decade, the Town of Pollock has proven itself a great location for the movie industry.  With its picturesque atmosphere and quaint feel, it is a great representation of small town Louisiana life.

Pollock is also the home of the Grant Dogwood Festival, held annually in LaCroix Park on the first Saturday in April of each year.  The Grant Dogwood Festival, Inc. originated in 1960 as a tour of the beautiful Dogwood trees that grow in and around Pollock.  The event has grown over the years to include a beauty pageant, a parade (the first parade was held in 1982), and fun-filled festival activities.

Today, even though Pollock has seen some hard economic times in the past, it is once again prosperous and looks forward to a great future with much to offer the public.  With good fiscal management always at the forefront, Pollock operates on a cash-only basis rather than a borrow-and-spend basis.  The town is the only one in Louisiana to have no property taxes, and it has the lowest water rates in the state.  Over the past several years, Pollock’s current administration has moved the town to a very enviable position by totally erasing debt, increasing savings, building infrastructure, and building and developing many family friendly activities such as a splash pad and amphitheater for family oriented movies, plays, and musicals.  Being situated in the heart of Kisatchie National Forest, recreational opportunities abound.  Pollock area’s forests, waterways, and lakes provide camping, boating, swimming, and fishing at their best.  Developed and marked hiking and walking trails are available and well utilized.  Pollock is the home of the state champion long leaf pine tree.  Under the leadership of the present administration, a coming together of the “COMMUNITY FAMILY” has been accomplished.  Senior citizen and youth activities are top on the agenda in the community.  Pollock boasts and elementary school that strives for excellence, a sports complex right in the city limits, a fire department that continues to build and grow to serve the needs of the people, and a Police Department that is truly dedicated to the safety and well-being of all citizens of the town.

The Town of Pollock’s three parks, through private donations and grants, have been developed and revitalized so that maximum utilization will be offered to the citizens of the community.  Pollock’s Foster Park offers modern playground equipment in a safe and shady fenced environment for the children, as well as a shaded pavilion with a bar-b-que pit for family get-togethers and enjoyment.  Foster Park also has an asphalt walking trail for those wishing to take advantage of the facility.  The Town of Pollock also boasts a beautiful and serene Nature Park located on Georgia Street.  Individuals wishing to do so may simply enjoy the trees, birds and squirrels in a natural and quiet surrounding, sit on one of the many park benches and read, or utilize the area as a place of serene meditation.  LaCroix Park, located on Highway 8 West in Pollock, is the site of the annual Dogwood Festival.  Its sports complex hosts many softball and baseball games and tournaments each year.  A lighted fitness trail with ten fitness stations is an inviting attraction for those who are health and fitness conscious.

The Pollock area has many churches of many denominations, and each of the churches is part of the community family.  The present Town of Pollock administration is striving for an improved over-all look of the town, holds planned community clean-up days, and has adopted a zoning ordinance.  The Pollock Municipal Building was dedicated in 2013 and is located in the historic home of the late Representative and Mrs. George Foster, Sr.  The Foster home, a Sears Roebuck home, was begun in 1912.  The Fosters married in the parlor of Oction House in December 1913, and moved into their completed home in 1913.  The Foster family donated the property and home to the Town of Pollock in 2010, and a nearly one million dollar restoration took place, with the Town of Pollock borrowing no money for the endeavor.  The Town of Pollock Police Station and Municipal Court are located in the historic Walker’s Store building.  It is a restored building located on Patterson Street.  The Pollock Community Center is also located on Patterson Street to serve the people of Pollock.  Mayor Scott’s “Main Street” beautification project has made Patterson Street, Pollock’s old Main Street, quaint and inviting.  Beautiful downtown murals, ornamental street lights, benches, planters, and building renovations on Patterson Street give the Town of Pollock a “Mayberry-ish” quality.  With the expansion of US Highway 165 through Pollock, many changes have been and are taking place within the town.  Along with the highway expansion, water and sewer expansions have taken place so that more individuals around the Pollock area may be served.  Pollock is a family friendly community, often called the “Mayberry of Louisiana”, where friendship is free.  The town leaders are “committed to working with the people and for the good of Pollock” so that continued growth and prosperity are achieved for future generations.

Committed to working with the people and for the good of Pollock