Calcasieu Parish

Cities & Towns of Southwest Louisiana

Calcasieu Parish has a population of around 205,000, according to the 2021 census. The parish covers a 1,094 sq. mile area in the southwestern portion of Louisiana. In the next few years, Calcasieu Parish is expecting an unprecedented economic boom as a result of an expansion of the petrochemical industry. In addition, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana is quickly becoming a vacation destination with four major gaming/resort properties.

Parish History

Calcasieu Parish was created on March 24, 1840, from the parish of Saint Landry, one of the original nineteen civil parishes established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1807. The original parish seat was chosen as Comasaque Bluff, which was east of the river and later called Marsh Bayou Bluff. On December 8, 1840, the seat of justice was named Marion. Jacob Ryan was successful, in 1852, in having the parish seat moved from Marion to the east bank of Lake Charles. As the population in this area grew over the years, the original Calcasieu Parish has since been divided into five smaller parishes. The original area of Calcasieu Parish is called Imperial Calcasieu.

The name Calcasieu comes from the Atakapan word "quelqueshue,” meaning "crying eagle.” It was originally the name of an Atakapa chief but became the name given to what was formerly the Rio Hondo River (Rio Stondo or "Deep River"), now the Calcasieu River. The parish then inherited this name.

The seat of justice changed in 1852 from Marion to Lake Charles. Many years later, a disastrous fire destroyed much of downtown Lake Charles including the courthouse, which housed many records. Since then, Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish have risen from the ashes and become an economic powerhouse in Louisiana due to the petrochemical industry and its key location and channels on the Gulf of Mexico.