Louisiana's third oldest city, Opelousas was founded in 1720 and incorporated in 1821. In 1805 the city became the parish seat of Imperial St. Landry Parish.
The name “Opelousas” is most commonly interpreted as meaning “Blackleg”, perhaps because the local Opelousas tribe of Indians painted their legs black.
The first French explorers arrived in the area in the late 17th century. A trading post was established and soon Opelousas became an overland stopping point for travelers going between Natchitoches and New Orleans.
In 1763-64, Louis Pellerin, a soldier stationed at the Opelousas Post was given a land grant in order to lay out a town. This was the core of the present city. Later the Spanish took control of Louisiana and Opelousas became a Spanish military post.
For a short time during the Civil War, when Baton Rouge was occupied by Federal troops in 1863, Opelousas became the capital of Confederate Louisiana.
Long known as the 'Birthplace of Zydeco' and the 'International Capital of Zydeco Music', Opelousas was recently officially designated by the State of Louisiana as the “Zydeco Capital of the World.”