Hammond, Louisiana

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Hammond is the largest city in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 20,049 at the 2009 census. It is home to Southeastern Louisiana University. The city was the home base for production of the first season of the NBC television series In the Heat of the Night.

Hammond is the principal city of the Hammond Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Tangipahoa Parish.

Contents

History

The city is named for Peter Hammond (1797–1870)—possibly anglicized from Peter av Hammerdal (Peter of Hammerdal)—a Swedish immigrant who first settled the area around 1818. Peter, a sailor, had been briefly imprisoned by the British at Dartmoor Prison during the Napoleonic Wars; he broke jail, made his way back to the sea, and later left his ship in New Orleans, where he used his savings to buy then-inexpensive land northwest of Lake Pontchartrain. There he started a plantation to grow trees, which he made into masts, charcoal, and other products for the maritime industry in New Orleans. He transported the goods first to the head of navigation on the Natalbany River at Springfield, Louisiana.

In 1854, the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad (later the Illinois Central Railroad, now Canadian National Railway) came through the area, launching the city's emergence as a commercial and transport center. The point where the railroad met Peter's trail to Springfield was at first known as Hammond's Crossing. Peter Hammond is buried on the east side of town under the Hammond Oak along with his wife, three daughters, and a favorite slave boy (see inset showing the spreading oak at gravesite).

During the American Civil War, the city was a shoemaking center for the Confederacy. It later became a major shipping point for strawberries, earning it the title of "the Strawberry Capital of America".[1]

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