Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park


Located in Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in Louisiana, Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park is a replication of the original Fort, which was set up just a few hundred yards away, by founder Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis in 1714.  Get a sense of the French Colonial life on a tour through the fort, museum, and historic buildings.


Fort St. Jean Baptiste served as a military outpost and commercial trade center until 1762, when France’s defeat by England in the French and Indian War forced her to cede the Louisiana colony to Spain. Under Spanish authority, the fort served as a trade center and a link in Spain’s intracolonial communications network. But since its original purpose of protecting a territorial boundary no longer applied, the Spanish eventually abandoned the fort. The fort was in such ruins by the time the United States acquired the area in the Louisiana Purchase (1803) that the Americans could no longer use it, so they built Fort Claiborne nearby.

The site obtained for the replication of Fort St. Jean Baptiste is located on Cane River Lake (formerly the Red River) a few hundred yards from the original fort site. The fort replication was based upon Ignace Francois Broutin’s plans and on extensive archival research in Louisiana, Canada and France. Fort St. Jean Baptiste is a key destination on the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail, and one of historic sites within the Cane River National Heritage Area.

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