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Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park
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Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2009 - 2017.

Fort Saint Jean Baptiste State Historic Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana marks the western French frontier. Only about 15 miles west in the town of Robeline was Los Adaes, the former site of a presidio, mission, and the Spanish capital of Tejas, the western Spanish frontier, now another state historic park. Although enemies, these two outposts sometime cooperated because of their isolation.

In 1714, Louis Antoine Juchereau de Saint Denis, a French Canadian was traveling from Alabama to Mexico on a trading mission. Upon reaching a Natchitoches Indian village on the banks of the Red River, he had two huts built and left a few men behind to guard the stores and trade with the locals. Thus was founded Natchitoches, the first permanent European settlement in what would eventually become part of the United State through the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1716, Sieur Charles Claude Dutisné and a small company of colonial troops began building a fort to protect France's claim to this disputed territory. This outpost was named Fort Saint Jean Baptiste des Natchitoches and evolved into major trade center in the lower Mississippi Valley. Commandant St. Denis commanded from 1722 to 1744 and was responsible for many improvements such as a double thickness palisade wall around the fort. Engineer-in-chief Sieur Ignace Francois Broutin arrived in August 1732 and by the end of the year had additional structures built amid protests from the Spanish who felt this was an intrusion into their territory.

The fort was occupied by various groups from 1716 to 1762 when France ceded Louisiana to Spain after its defeat by England in the French and Indian War. Spain operated the fort for a time but since it was no longer in a border area, it was abandoned. By the time that the United States acquired Louisiana in 1803, the fort was in such ruin that a new fort was built at nearby Claiborne.

Today a full size replica has been constructed using original historical documents discovered in France and authentic materials on the banks of the Cane River, which is the new name for the Red River a short distance from the original location. The fort is a short distance from a Visitor Center and features living history by park rangers.


155 Rue Jefferson
Natchitoches, LA 71457

318-357-3101 / 1-888-677-7853

In the town of Natchitoches between the historic downtown and Northwest State University, a few miles east of I-49 and just off Highway 6. Note: don't use the service entry on Highway 6/Mill Street.

Lodging interior.

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Natchitoches Parish Main Page

This page last updated: Saturday, 16-Jan-2016 09:17:56 EST

Note:This is not the official site for any of the places shown in Places Earth. Places Earth is not responsible for accuracy of the information. Hours of operations, prices, exhibits, and sometimes locations are subject to change without notice.

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