History of Morgan City

Morgan City, formerly Brashear City, is the gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin. Morgan City was originally called Tiger Island by surveyors appointed by U.S. Secretary of War John Calhoun because of a particular type of wild cat seen in the area. It was later called Brashear City after Walter Brashear, a prominent Kentucky physician who purchased large tracts of land and acquired numerous sugar mills. During the Civil War, Brashear's strategic location at the mouth of the Atchafalaya made it one of the focal points of the campaign in the region. In 1876, Brashear City was renamed Morgan City in honor of Charles Morgan, a steamship magnate who successfully dredged the Atchafalaya Bay. The dredging allowed the city to become a booming port, which set the pattern for future growth as a trade center.

The Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico have always been the economic lifeblood of Morgan City. Commercial fishing, particularly shrimping in the Gulf, has provided for generations of Morgan City natives. The natural resources of the Atchafalaya Basin have also been a major contributor to the local economy. The Atchafalaya Basin is over 800,000 acres. It covers one third of the state of Louisiana and is the largest overflow swamp in the United States. The Basin is home to countless species of fish and wildlife. The natural beauty of the Atchafalaya Basin at Morgan City was chosen as the site for filming the first Tarzan movie in 1917, which starred Elmo Lincoln.

In the last 50 years, the offshore petroleum industry has become a major sector of the economy. In 1947, Morgan City gained national recognition when Kerr-McGee produced the first offshore oil well out of sight of land.