Trainasse is a Louisiana French word for the narrow ditch that bayou inhabitants dredge through the marsh for straight-line access to fishing holes, duck stands, and trapping camps. A typical trainasse is just wide enough for a pirogue (simple wooden canoe). By paddle or pole, the pirogue moves along this marsh “path” with a draft so shallow “she can travel on a dew,” writes Harnett T. Kane in his classic The Bayous of Louisiana. Older trainasse channels often enlarge into bayous, becoming permanent features in the marsh-swamp complex. Geographers and hydrologists have found that the crisscross of artificial waterways has affected drainage patterns and has contributed to the deterioration of the region’s marshes.

Mike Tidwell