Artifacts found during archaeological digs over the last few decades are displayed in each site’s museum. These sites indicate organized civilizations on the area, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 years ago.
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.
In summer 2010, the Louisiana Office of State Parks plans to open a new historic site in Pineville. 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.
The military side of the Civil War is seen through re-enactments at Mansfield and Port Hudson State Historic Sites, located at opposite ends of the state and “bookend” the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Centenary State Historic Site in Jackson, originally opened as the College of Louisiana but is more well-known as a medical facility during the War.
Long before the Civil War, settlers and colonialists spread westward to stake claims for European powers. Fort Jesup State Historic Site in Many and Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site portray the lives of Spanish and French settlers and their relationships with the Native Americans already in residence. Farther south, just outside of New Orleans, Fort Pike State Historic Site is reminder of the strategic importance of the Port of New Orleans to the emerging new country and the need to protect economic lines of supply.
Native American life is examined daily at Marksville State Historic Site at Marksville and Poverty Point State Historic Site in Epps. Artifacts found during archaeological digs over the last few decades are displayed in each site’s museum. These sites indicate organized civilizations on the area, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 years ago.
Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site in Plaquemine and Rebel State Historic Site in Marthaville represent socio-economic elements that are a part of everyday life in Louisiana. Plaquemine SHS preserves the original lockhouse and lock structure to educate visitors on the significance of river navigational structures in the early 20th century; while Rebel SHS is home to the Louisiana Country Music Museum and displays items from well-known singers such as Hank Williams Jr. and Roy Acuff.
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.