Set on the banks of the Ouachita River in northeast Louisiana, Monroe is the trade center for that region of the state. In the middle of a lakes-and-streams area, it does make a convenient base for fishing and other watersports. The Emy-Lou Biedenharn Foundation has a trio of attractions: the home of Joseph Biedenharn, the first man to bottle Coca-Cola; Elsong Gardens, formal gardens surrounding the house, named for his daughter Emy-Lou; and the Bible Research Center, containing artwork, manuscripts and rare Bibles. The Folklife Festival takes place in Monroe each September with presentations about the culture of Louisiana and a heavy emphasis on gospel music. In nearby Ruston, the Peach Festival is held in early June.
Poverty Point, 45 mi/75 km east (take Highway 139 to Highway 134), is a famous archaeological site. Native Americans constructed this complex of earthen ridges and ceremonial mounds between 1500 and 700 BC. One of the mounds is built in the shape of a bird. Visitors can choose between self-guided hikes or a guided tour in a tram. Monroe is 200 mi/322 km northwest of New Orleans.
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