This replica fort was constructed in the 1970s to recreate the once bustling 18th century fort. Established in the early 1700s, this fort would be the first European settlement in the lands that would comprise the Louisiana Purchase. Over the years, Fort St. Jean Baptiste grew to play an important role on the banks of the Cane River and today is preserved as a historic site for future generations.
The fort was established by French settlers around 1716, just two years after the nearby city of Natchitoches was founded. The name Natchitoches came from the local Native American tribe who lived, hunted and gathered on the banks of the Red River, later known as the Cane River.
Fort St. Jean Baptiste des Natchitoches quickly grew to become an important trading location in the Lower Mississippi River Valley region. Native Americans along with French and Spanish settlers bartered and traded their goods.
After the Louisiana Purchase took effect, the United States visited this fort site to find that it was in disrepair. The French and Spanish had long abandoned the fort after it was deemed that there were no longer territorial threats. The U.S. government decommissioned this fort and built a new fort nearby that would be named, Fort Claiborne.
In the 1970s, a call to action to preserve this land was declared by locals and historians. The fort was deemed a historic site and work was done to recreate the old Fort St. Jean Baptiste based on old map drawings.
Today, the site is used as an educational center and archeological site. Tours are offered and a museum is open for visitors to learn about the important history of Fort St. Jean Baptiste.
Fort St. Jean Baptiste is located at 155 Jefferson Street in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Fort St. Jean Baptiste before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!