Industry, Commerce and Agriculture
Louisiana was once a rich source of timber, providing much of the nation's hardwood, used in the building of new towns and cities. Today, the vast deforested areas of land are a sad reminder of this.
The earliest successful crop of sugar was produced in 1841, although introduced by the Jesuits in 1771, the climate of Louisiana was not perfect. The production of sugar relied heavily on cheap labor, which at first, was supplied by enslaved native Americans. These were difficult to control and not as plentiful as the African slaves.
The cotton industry was born in 1793, when 27 year old Eli Whitney invented the first cotton gin, a hand cranked machine that separated the cotton from the seeds, fifty times faster than the average slave. Instead of reducing the need for slaves it increased the demand, as many plantations turned from tobacco to cotton as their main crop. Eli Whitney went on to invent the first machinery for mass producing guns and clocks.
The first steamboat arrived in New Orleans in 1812, launching the city's golden age as a major cotton port, sustaining several decades of growth and prosperity.
Today's agricultural industry relies mainly rice, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, cotton and pecans.
The petrochemical industry in Louisiana accounts for around 40% of the nations total.
Breaux Bridge is the crawfish capital of the world and Louisiana's Shrimp and Oyster production is greater than in any other American state.
The fur trade in Louisiana is also greater than that of any other state in the country.
The state ranks in second place for the production of natural gas.
Grain, aggregates and chemicals are just a few of the manufacturing and processing plants to be found along the Mississippi, making use of the river's natural highway.