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Lake Charles, Louisiana Garage Door Repair

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The City of Lake Charles is conveniently located off Interstate-10 between Houston, TX and New Orleans, LA. Our sandy beaches make up the shores of the Calcasieu River just 30 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Charles is connected to the Gulf by means of a deep-water ship channel and is the seat and port of entry of Calcasieu Parish.

Distance to Major Cities (in miles)
  • Atlanta: 670.2

  • Baton Rouge: 129.4

  • Dallas: 358.8

  • Houston: 142.8

  • New Orleans: 205.2

    History of Lake Charles

    The first people to settle the lake were Mr. and Mrs. LeBleu of Bordeaux, France. They arrived in 1781 and secured their home six miles east of the present site of Lake Charles, living in peaceful coexistence with several tribes of Indians. This area originally settled by the LeBleu's is now known as LeBleu Settlement.

    Other pioneers quickly ventured to Lake Charles. Among them was Charles Sallier who married LeBleu's daughter, Catherine. The Sallier's built their home on the lake, in the area now known as Lake Charles. After Charles Sallier built his home in this area, the lake became known as Charlie's Lake. By 1860 this area was being called "Charleston" or "Charles Town."

    Settlers at the turn of the century acquired property from the Indians or they homesteaded the Rio Hondo lands. The Rio Hondo which flowed through Lake Charles was later called Quelqueshue, an Indian term meaning "Crying Eagle" and still later Calcasieu. Little is known of these early residents except that they were a mixture of English, French, Spanish and Dutch. On March 7, 1861, Lake Charles was incorporated as the town of Charleston, Louisiana.

    The growth of the city was fairly slow until Captain Daniel Goos came in 1855. He established a lumber mill and schooner dock, now Goosport, and promoted a profitable trade with Texas and Mexican ports by sending his schooner down-river into the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the wood which built the city came from Goos' mill. Until the arrival of Goos, Jacob Ryan dominated the lumber industry.

    Ryan convinced the state government to move the parish seat to Lake Charles. Later that year, Ryan and Samuel Kirby transferred the parish courthouse and jail to Lake Charles, at that time called Charleston. Six years after the city was incorporated, dissatisfaction over the name Charleston arose. On March 16, 1867, Charleston, Louisiana, was incorporated into the town of Lake Charles.

    Early Industry
    Isolated by the Atchafalaya swamp on the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the great virgin pine and cypress forests to the north, Lake Charles emerged as a settlement largely cut off from the mainstream mind of the South. From the city's very beginning, no one ethnic group, race, religion or politics dominated the culture. Oral tradition holds that Jean Lafitte frequented Contraband Bayou and the lake, a story best substantiated by a black man of Moorish descent who met Lake Charles' early settlers.

    The first white settlers were Martin LeBleu and his wife Dela Marion. Leaving Bordeaux, France in 1775, they arrived before the beginning of the nineteenth century. Soon to follow was Charles Sallier, a native of Spain and the first white man to build a house within what are now the city limits of Lake Charles. He married Catherine LeBleu in 1802, and they had the first white child born in Southwest Louisiana. In an area earlier inhabited by native Indians, European immigrants began to hew out the land. By 1817, Jacob Ryan had arrived and settled 160 acres on the east shore of Lake Charles. Ryan was the first settler whose main objective was lumber, and it was he who built the first of many sawmills and the town's first industry. That mill stood near the Chase Bank building and the Capital One Tower. The town grew up along the lake, actually around the Jacob Ryan sawmill. Lumber was the town's reason to exist. Without lumber there would not have been the basic natural resources that early settlers knew how to refine into finished products necessary to develop the town's economy.

    Between 1817 and 1855, longleaf yellow pine and some cypress remained the primary industry. It was in 1855 that Captain Daniel Goos, a Frisian by birth, came to Lake Charles. He too built a sawmill, but soon branched out into building schooners, tug-boats and even steamboats. "Charlie's Lake," "Charlestown" and finally "Lake Charles" found itself doing extensive trade with Galveston. A close bond grew between the two towns, and Lake Charles lumber found Galveston to be its gateway to the American West.

    The beginning of the 1860's would bring the war years, but Southwest Louisiana had its own unique attitude toward the war. Both English and northeastern Americans had come to settle Lake Charles, not to mention a large influx of continental Europeans and Jews. Attitudes toward slavery in Lake Charles were mixed; and certainly choosing sides remained secondary to business interests. The citizenry did finally become involved in the war, and young men of local families went to serve the South.

    Coupled with the cosmopolitan citizenry and the geographic location of the town, the outcome of the war had little or no socio-political effect on Lake Charles - except that the end of the war did produce a still greater lumber exporting business to Galveston and the nation. The cheap pine made the town flourish. Other settlers continued to move in. More sawmills were being built by men like Rudolph Krause, a native German; and a few years later, Midwesterners from Kansas, namely the Kings and the Webers, would also build mills.

    The 1880's saw the small sawmill village develop into a boom town, thanks to the innovative advertising methods of a man named J.B. Watkins. With his astounding $200,000 advertising campaign, the town grew 400% in the 80's. Cultural activists became important, and Lake Charles had a definite geographic advantage. Traveling entertainment that New Orleans enjoyed was most often performed in Lake Charles on Sunday evenings. Texas had Sunday closing laws, and many traveling troupes which passed through the South to New Orleans and on to Galveston and Houston usually found Lake Charles a good place for a one-night Sunday performance before going west into Texas.

    By the 1890's, finer homes were being built. Although the town had no real architects, carpenters of significant artistic ability each tried to out build each other with their use of elaborate fretwork and Victorian decoration. Fancy spindles, newel posts, soldiers and paneled doors - all native of pine - filled the houses. Merchants like Leopold Kaufman imported fine linens, china, furniture and all kinds of household goods for the affluent society of the time.

    Many events would transpire in Lake Charles during the next hundred years, but enough of the old part of the residential district has been preserved to reveal the city's grand past. The virgin pine and cypress forests are gone and the last mill has long since closed, but the pine and cypress houses of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries stand as a reminder of the great lumber era that contributed so much to the growth and development of Southwest Louisiana.

    *Information provided by the Louisiana Preservation Alliance.

    Gerstner Field

    Gerstner Field was a large World War I aviation training camp that existed during the years 1917-1921 about 15 miles southeast of Lake Charles. Today the green and white Gerstner Memorial Drive signs in Lake Charles along La. Hwy. 14 point the way southward to the crossroads village of Holmwood near where the field was once located. Travelers will find a historical marker located one-half mile south of Holmwood on LA Hwy. 27 (the Creole Nature Trail) at the corner of Old Camp Road.

    During its short time of existence, Gerstner Field took in several thousand acres of land westward from La. Hwy. 27 on both sides of Old Camp Road. The field's 24 hangars were lined up on the south side of the road. Most of the other buildings, including its barracks, shops, YMCAs, and headquarters, about 90 buildings of various sizes, were located on the north side of the road between Camp Road and a railroad spur extending along the field's northern boundary.

    Today the site looks nothing like an air field. All of the old buildings were torn down or moved away shortly after World War I. The land on which the field existed is now private property and not available to public access, but a few of the old concrete foundations, the camp's two deep wells, and its sewer plant can still be seen from Old Camp Road. Many of the old foundations that are still there, such as those of its 24 hangars, are now covered with tall weeds and tallow trees.

    Gerstner Field was Lake Charles' and Louisiana's first military air field. (Please note: Gerstner Field is not to be confused with the Lake Charles Air Base which was built in another location on the east side of town during World War II. After that base was closed, it was was later reopened and enlarged during the Cold War into a Strategic Air Command base for B-47s that was named for General Claire Chennault of Flying Tiger fame.)

    During Gerstner Field's short history several thousand persons worked at the camp to graduate a total of 499 fighter pilots and aviation instructors from its training courses. These graduates were sent either overseas to participate in the war or to other air fields around the country to serve as instructors.

    The federal government built Gerstner Field near Lake Charles largely because of the untiring lobbying efforts of the Lake Charles Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of C.D. Moss, president; and Herbert B. Bayliss, executive secretary. Bayliss spent the entire summer of 1917 lobbying in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with Congressman Ladislas Lazaro to win the field in competition with Baton Rouge, Monroe and about 100 other towns and cities around the country.

    When the Chamber's efforts were finally successful, Lake Charles businessmen and members of the Chamber paid for leasing the land, running the utilities to the site, and organizing the housing and other forms of assistance needed to meet the needs of the 5,000 workers who leveled the land and built the camp in only four months of intense work during late summer and fall of 1917.

    On November 16, 1917, when construction work was nearly completed, the Army began sending hundreds of young fliers, mechanics, and support personnel, some of the nation's best educated and most talented young men, to this facility. Soon over 2,000 military persons were working to meet training schedules, maintain airplanes and provide the daily necessities that kept the fliers and airplanes going.

    During its one year of service during the war, nothing was easy at Gerstner Field. The Signal Corps Aviation Service put tremendous pressure upon the field's commanders to produce trained pilots in a hurry. But speed in training combined with fragile aircraft meant a high number of accidents and the loss of many lives. Other problems included wartime equipment shortages, localized flooding at the camp, the worldwide Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and the strong, unannounced hurricane of Aug. 6, 1918, which killed two soldiers, battered barracks, destroyed hangars, and mangled 100 airplanes.

    From the time the first aviation units arrived at Gerstner Field, area residents made a point of being friendly to all of them. On weekends and holidays residents invited the soldiers into their homes, and they even cleared homemade landing strips to encourage pilots to land nearby in Lake Charles and towns as far away as Vinton, Jennings and Oakdale. Gerstner Field fliers in their Curtis JN-4 Jenny trainers provided many Southwest Louisiana folk with their first glimpses of airplanes.


    When the camp was finally closed and demolished, it left Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana with a penchant for aviation that continues to this day.

    Lake Charles, Louisiana Zipcodes

    70601, 70602, 70605, 70606, 70607, 70609, 70615, 70616, 70629


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