Intracoastal City is the nearest access to Vermilion Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in this region, but don't expect a bustling city with a large population. Intracoastal City evolved through years of service to the area's oil and shrimp industries. Further south of Intracoastal, you should not miss the Leland Bowman Lock on the Intracoastal Waterway. This lock, operated by the Army Corp of Engineers, helps to regulate the flow of water in the Mermentau District compromising much more than the entire parish of Vermilion. Two hundred thirty-eight (238) miles of the Intracoastal Canal falls under the Leland Bowman Lock's supervision. This system of keeping salt water out of the fresh water supply that serves the farming communities further north, while allowing the flow of transportation by commodity carrying barges, is fully computerized and interesting to watch. The Intracoastal Canal is a partially manmade canal inland of the Gulf of Mexico, stretching from Texas to Florida, that allows water transportation. It was furthered along after World War II when German subs managed to sink 90 crude carrying boats from Texas to New Orleans in the gulf off Louisiana waters. This and other history, plus an interesting video can be found at the Lock's main office. The drive until the gate at Leland Bowman is public and the surrounding cattail marshes are filled with water lilies and wire grass. All established areas here were built up out of the marshlands for habitation purposes. Once you reach the gates, you are granted permission to enter by calling ahead - 337-893-6790. Keep in mind that Homeland Security does affect visitation rights. But once there, we recommend that you pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the shelter of the Lock's gazebo. If you bring your binoculars and camera, you're in for a treat since the surrounding marsh is teeming with local flora and fauna.