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Louisiana has the most colorful history of any state and of many countries. Beginning long before the Louisiana Purchase, our state took shape in prehistoric times. We have had a past of many battles, on the battlefield and in the political arena. Louisiana's architecture is a lasting impression of French and Spanish rule. Today, there are many reminders of the past in our museums, plantations, historic sites and attractions.
Two giant names of American business are deeply ingrained in the history of Monroe, and its neighbor across the Ouachita River, West Monroe: Delta Airlines got its start here in 1926 as a crop dusting service, and Coca-Cola opened its first bottling plant here. Today, those legacies provide unique attractions for visitors. Biedenharn Home and Gardens, the estate of that first Coke bottler, is open to the public as a museum and sculpture garden. The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana has exhibits on Delta Airlines, the local World War II flight school at Selman Field and the volunteer combat unit called the Flying Tigers commanded by one-time Monroe resident, General Chennault. The 1,800-acre, cypress-studded waters and trails of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge puts sportsmen's paradise at Monroe's doorstep, while a trip to the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo offers up-close encounters with animals from around the world.