Get out of the classroom and into history

at Louisiana’s State Parks and historic sites

08/23/2010
teaching through travel

Louisiana’s 21 State Parks, 17 Historic Sites, and one Preservation Area offer you and your class a uniquely rewarding experience of our state’s natural beauty and historical riches.

Each one of the State Historic Sites was selected for its historical, cultural or archaeological significance. Museums, artifacts, outdoor displays and interpretive programs are some of the ways each area tells its remarkable story. From historic Natchitoches, founded in 1714 as the oldest European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory, to the culturally diverse Cajun Country, visitors can find some of the state’s most fascinating history. Every year, more than 50,000 students get a first-hand look at events that shaped Louisiana’s culture and society.

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Our sites are significant for students from around the world as well.  In fact Poverty Point State Historic Site, location of the earliest large scale Native American mound complex in North America, is currently on the US Tentative List as a possible World Heritage Site.  The World Heritage Program is administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and upon nomination, Poverty Point will be only one of eight cultural World Heritage Sites in the United States.

Opening summer 2010, Forts Randolph/Fort Buhlow State Historic Site will connect Mansfield SHS and Port Hudson SHS in interpreting the Red River Campaign and the subsequent Civil War events.

Named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his famous poem, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in St. Martinville portrays the life of French-speaking cultures along Bayou Teche — both Creole setters and the Acadians from Nova Scotia – with tours of Maison Olivier and a nearby reconstructed Acadian Farmstead.

As with all Southern states, the Civil War made quite an impact on Louisiana. Tales of pre- and post-War landowning families and their households can be heard at Winter Quarters State Historic Site in Newellton, Rosedown Plantation and Locust Grove State Historic Sites in St. Francisville and Audubon State Historic Site — also in St. Francisville — where artist and naturalist John James Audubon sketched 32 drawings featured in his Birds of America collection.

But long before the Civil War, settlers and colonialists spread westward to stake claims for European powers. Historic sites located on the foundations of colonial-era forts and sites dedicated to the study of Native American culture highlight everyday life for peoples living in the area as early as 3,000 years ago, to as recently as the late 1800s.

In addition to our Historic Sites, the Louisiana State Arboretum in Ville Platte, a State Preservation Area, offers visitors a living botanical museum with natural growth and plantings grown for scientific or educational purposes. Trees, shrubs and flowers are labeled for observation along an extensive network of trails.

For more information, call the Office of State Parks at (888) 677-1400; write to P.O. Box 44426, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-4426; or visit www.lastateparks.com.
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