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(Credits: Far Out / HBO / YouTube / Justin Wilkens)

Travel

Travelling on the trail of 'True Detective' season one

For many of us, the first season of True Detective is one of the best pieces of television we’ve ever seen. The inaugural edition of Nic Pizzolatto’s anthology crime drama premiered in January 2014 via the home of pretty much every great TV show, HBO. 

Coming with a bumper cast that features Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in career-defining roles, as well as Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts and Tory Kittles, the acting in the show is so exquisite that the following two seasons had a hard time replicating it, regardless of the fact that they too are of very high quality. 

Comprised of eight episodes, True Detective season one is constructed as a nonlinear narrative, focusing on the stories of Louisiana State Police homicide detectives Rustin’ Rusts’ Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin ‘Marty’ Hart (Harrelson), who investigates the murder of a prostitute Dora Lange in 1995. 

Following a dramatic twist of events, 17 years later, the pair finally revisit the investigation alongside a string of other related unsolved crimes. Across the show, we see the pair’s private lives intertwine and fall apart as the problems that lay beneath the surface for both are brought to the fore by a variety of extraneous variables. Probably the most intellectually dense fictional TV series out there, the first season of True Detective explores a host of themes, including nihilism, Christianity, toxic masculinity and the cosmos. 

Drenched in the essence of the southern gothic genre, the series was filmed in Louisiana over a three-month period, and it was through the cinematography that the director, Cary Joji Fukunaga was able to capture the bleak themes set out by Pizzolatto. In the series, we go across Louisiana’s part of the Deep South and look at its dark underbelly, with no holds barred.

Given that True Detective season one has some truly memorable settings, we’ve listed five memorable locations that feature in Rust and Marty’s long journey to finding the truth. 

‘True Detective’ season one filming locations:

Oak Alley Plantation

In its 200 year history, Oak Alley Plantation has been many things, including “a sugar plantation; an abandoned investment property; a cattle ranch; a landscape of defiance in the face of the Army Corps of Engineers”, as an account on its official website testifies. 

A relic of the South’s antebellum period, this stunning white mansion is decked by rows of giant oak trees, situated in the middle of a lush landscape. Although you don’t see the house in the first episode of the series, it is in a remote part of the 63-acre property where Cohle and Hart discover Lange’s body. 

Open for visitors and a bastion of the local area’s history; the plantation is open to visitors as its mission is to enlighten people on the horrors of slavery. You can spend the night there, eat in its restaurant, go on a guided tour around the property, and even look at its collection of historical artefacts.

Fort Macomb

Another key part of the area’s history is Fort Macomb. In the early part of the show, the detectives are told of a hellish but unknown place called Carcosa, which bears some similarities to The Black Lodge in Twin Peaks. Carcosa was shot at Fort Macomb, which was built in the 1820s to protect the area, and it comes with a winding set of catacombs that look terrifying. 

The fort saw action in the War of 1812 and then in the Civil War when it was occupied by the Confederacy, whose fighters hid in the catacombs until they were defeated by Union forces when New Orleans was captured in 1862. In 1867 the barracks caught fire, and afterwards, Macomb was abandoned by the US Army, eventually being decommissioned in 1871. 

The fort and the land it is on are owned by the State of Louisiana, and even though many efforts have been made to open it to tourism because it is in such a decrepit condition due to the harsh weather in the area, the wakes of boats and Hurricane Katrina, its state is considered to be too hazardous for the public. There’s still the possibility to go past the fort on a boat, which we highly recommend. It sits amongst the overgrown flora, and it sends a chill down your spine as you think of the horrors of Carcosa. 

You can also find out more about this part of the area’s history by visiting the nearby Fort Pike State Historic Site, which has a lot more to say on the matter. 

Eunice

In episode two, we watch Cohle and Hart following leads that take them to a burned-out church in the middle of nowhere that is possibly the creepiest setting in the whole series. This is where the pair uncover some important clues about the killer and the murder of Dora, including the charcoal drawing of what seems to be a bare-chested woman with antlers on her head. 

The church is on the outskirts of Eunice, a town that is seen as a centre of Cajun culture. It’s the home of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame & Museum, and by all accounts, there are many incredible places to eat food and sample the local delicacy, Crawfish. 

Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

As all the different threads start weaving together towards the end of the show, the detectives and the viewer find out that the evil Carcosa is located somewhere on the extensive Creole Nature Trail. 

The trail connects a series of roads that run parallel to the Gulf and through the wetlands south of the city of Lake Charles, encompassing over 100 miles of the state. It takes you to places sporting Cajun architecture, parks, beaches and prime fishing locations. There’s also the Peveto Woods Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary, which for bird watchers, is said to be heaven on earth.  

Lake Charles itself is meant to be beautiful, described as “a Cajun personality with a Texas flair.”

Dot’s Diner

The least scary place on the list, Dot’s Diner is still a must-visit for those wanting to soak in the essence of the show and local culture. The Diner is a local chain, but do not be put off, as the 10601 Jefferson Hwy location in New Orleans is the place where Marty meets up with Papania during the finale of the show, which has long been one of the most polarising for hardcore fans who think that maybe Papania was aware of the identity of the murderer the whole time. 

Regardless of your opinion on the scene, treat yourself to a host of breakfasts, burgers and fish choices. If you’re not from the area, why not try the fried Catfish? It comes topped with Crawfish Julie sauce, a local delicacy.

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