How to Get There
Just about an hour's drive from Shreveport, the Cane River Creole National Historic Park consists of the Oakland and Magnolia
Plantations; make sure to arrive early so you can visit both in one day, or make a weekend get-a-way so you can enjoy beautiful
Natchitoches, too.

From Shreveport, follow LA 1 south to Natchitoches, and then meander down LA 494. Oakland Plantation will be the first place you'll
encounter in the park system.
The Creoles of Cane River
Unique, or as they say in French, unique
Home to Cajuns, creoles, alligators, New Orleans, Jazz, and the Mississippi Delta, there seems to be no place on earth quite like this state.
Almost all of its heritage landmarks reveal a unique cultural aspect, as the
Cane River Creole National Historic Park attests. Here, history is
told in the architecture and culture of French Creole plantations.

Red River Plantations
Situated south of Natchitotches, the oldest city in Louisiana, the plantation homes and sharecropper cabins along LA 494 sit along what
used to be path of the Red River. In 1830, Captain Henry Shreve broke up the natural log jam that formed a deep water, inland port north of
the city. The old river channel was then dammed and channeled to create Cane River Lake.

Many of the plantations along the Red River/ Cane River Lake have origins dating back to the end of the 18th century. Occupied by people
of French origin, they maintained French as their primary language, Catholicism as their primary religion, and kept many French traditions
alive. However, as behooves the new world, many not-so-French aspects joined in, literally creating what we now call Creole (the term
originates from the Latin root creare, “to create,” and used to refer to people who stem from non-Anglo cultures). Carribean customs like
voodoo were practiced within the slave quarters; the architecture combined west-African elements, Spanish ornamentals, German
timberwork, and French pier-and beam foundations; and old-style European pigeon breeding became the focus of wealthier land owners.

Being Black Along the Red
After the Americans purchased Louisiana in 1803 and an influx of Americans migrated to the region, the Creoles remained adamant in
maintaining a separate identity, especially when it came to running their plantations. For example, unlike Anglo black codes (the state
codes that defined and referenced enslavement), the French
Code Noir allowed enslaved blacks to buy their freedom. One prominent
example was Marie Therese Metoyer, who was freed by her master and lover Pierre Metoyer, and with whom she had ten children. Marie
Therese (called Coincoin, possibly the West African name her parents gave her) added to the original land holding that Metoyer bestowed
on her with a Spanish land grant and thus created a large plantation where she raised tobacco and cattle, grew medicinal herbs, sold
tallow, and owned slaves. With her earnings from the farm and as a renowned healer, Coincoin was able to buy freedom for her older
children, who were the result of an earlier concubinage she endured. In 1819, she and her children founded St. Augustine, the first all-
black catholic parish and church in Louisiana.

A Park is Born
While only a few of the Cane River Lake’s many plantation homes are of French Creole origin – the Magnolia and Oakland being the two
prominent ones - the National Park Service, in conjunction with Northwestern Louisiana State University and the descendants of the
Creole families, established the Cane River Creole National Park. Here, visitors can learn all about plantation life from the perspectives of  
sharecroppers, enslaved, overseers, and owners; see the machinery and self-sufficiency needed to run the mini-cities that made up the
plantation system; and discover how intertwined the farms were with their culture and environments.
Oakland Plantation was founded by the Prudhomme Family. I probably did not spell that right. Anyway, check out the beautiful live oaks!
The interior of the overseer's cabin at Oakland Plantation, which
was later inhabited by Creole sharecroppers, shows a fireplace
faced with generations of wall paper - some of it burlapped-back,
some of it simply newspaper. Family photographs of those who
used to live here garnish the mantle.
The corn crib on the Oakland Plantation was built in an African style,
with wide overhangs over all four side hides, and a pitched roof with a
square gable in the center. The barn is a good example of Creole style.
The gardens at Oakland reveals that the gardener used old bottles, buried
upside down, to create a border. Many of the bottles date to the 18th
century. Creating this kind of garden border is a great example of how
rural folk "made do" in tough agricultural times.
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You know what they say, that Texas “like a whole  ‘nother country?” Well, they’re wrong! They haven't been to
Louisiana, I reckon. (Don’t beat me up, Texans. You know I love ya’ll).
The Magnolia Plantation has a number of slave cabins still extant.
The bricks used to build the cabins were manufactured at the
plantation. Plantations were worlds onto themselves, and sported
diverse cottage industries. After freedom, share croppers lived
inside the cabins.
The blacksmith shop at the Magnolia Plantation is one of Louisiana's
oldest structures. possibly dating to the early 18th century. Architectural
materials include half timbers and bousillage, a type of French adobe.
The 19th century cotton gin at the Magnolia Plantation depicts a
history of ginning techniques throughout the plantation and
share cropping periods.
Entering the interior of the blacksmith shop at the Magnolia
Plantation is like taking a step back in time. Archaeological
excavations discovered a layer of glass shards and a layer of egg
shells beneath the hearth - historians are unsure what this meant,
while mysticists believe the debris is connected to voodoo rites.
The interior of one of the brick slave cabins at the Magnolia Plantation
reveals more modern furnishings alongside antebellum features. The
NPS has kept the house the way it looked when it became part of the
National Park. When it was last inhabited, a family of farmers lived
there. At one time, this structure also served as a school for African
American children during the period of segregation.