Lake Johansen, Station Farm, and Sports & Leisure at the National Leprosarium, Carville, Louisiana

Stop 6 of 9 in the Carville: The National Leprosarium tour

Up until the 1950s, the 80 or so acres ahead and to the left of you were farmed by about 30 laborers who grew fruits and vegetables to feed the staff and patients.

Corn was grown to feed livestock. Pigs, chickens and beef cattle were raised in barnyards nearby. A dairy herd provided milk.

Every evening around 8 PM, a guard made his rounds of the patients’ dormitories, pushing a cart and ringing a bell to announce a snack. Patients would bring their own cups and the guard would ladle out fresh milk and offer a hunk of bread from the onsite bakery.

Lake Johansen, ahead of you in the distance, to the left, is a 20 acre man-made lake, created for the patients in 1950. It was named after the much loved Dr. Fredrick Johansen who organized its construction. The lake is very shallow--no deeper than 8 feet.

The Lake was designated for patients only, and stocked with fish. It was a favorite site for

• 4th of July cookouts
• Veterans’ sponsored Fishing Rodeos
• Boating activities & picnics

Patients were encouraged to stay active—not only with employment, but with leisure time activities. Some of the clubs focused on hobbies, national identity, veterans’ status, or religion:

• Gardening Club
• B Natural Musical Group
• Fishing Club
• Boating Club
• Mexican Club
• Legion of Mary (Catholic women)
• Holy Name (Catholic men)
• Lions Club
• American Legion & Auxiliary
• Boys Scouts

Sports were also encouraged, if a patient was healthy enough:

• Golf
• Tennis
• Badminton
• Ping pong
• Softball

The patients’ team softball team, the Carville Indians, were River League Champs in the 1950s & 60s. The Indians always had the home-team advantage due to quarantine.

Please follow the road to the right, continue straight ahead until you see the 10 MPH sign, Stop 7

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