|Fort St. Jean Baptiste:
|Questions or comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
|This 1743 map of Louisiana by French cartographer Demarigny denotes the far western reaches of the French North American empire. Fort St.
Jean Baptiste is noted as "Fort Natchitoche." Both names were used historically. Click here for the full version. (Library of Congress)
|The 1858 Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (aka St. Francis) in Natchitoches is of the same founding lineage as the original St. Jean
Baptiste conregation from 1722. Natchitoches, however, is no longer a separate diocese. The area is overseen by the Diocese of Alexandria.
|The church founded within the fort also began the original cemetery of Natchitoches, which is now called the American Cemetery (after the
1803 purchase, Americans began using the cemetery so many French-Creoles buried their dead at the Catholic Cemetery instead, hence the
name American Cemetery). Historians believe that the original fort was located within the confines of the space that the cemetery now occupies.
None of the graves from the French period remain, and very few are extant from the Spanish period. One of the site's earliest graves is this iron
cross, which denotes a typical French burial. The grave is that of Marie Anne D'Artigaux who died February 26, 1797.
|Re-enactors or ghosts on the premises? The fort has been authentically replicated and sits along the Jefferson Highway in Natchitoches.
Photograph is by Christopher Talbot for the National Park Service.
|How to get there
|The Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site sits between the Cane River (which was
once the Red River before the Great Raft Removal), and Jefferson Street, the historic
highway that connects Winnepeg to New Orleans. Its physical address is 155 Jefferson
Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457. You can also find it on this map:
|The Red River Valley Fort Tour
St. Jean Bapiste Los Adaes Fort Claiborne Fort Jesup
Fort Towson Fort Washita Fort Belknap Fort Phantom Hill
Fort Buhlow and Randolph Fort Griffin Fort Richardson Fort Sill
|The map above is an excerpt from a larger 1760 map of French Louisiana, showing the location of the original Fort St. Jean along the Red
River as well as the many arms of the river around Natchitoches. Historians at the fort have recreated the map in a scaled, 3-D model, helping
the visitor to visualize the historical "lay of the land." Map is from Louisiana State University library, Shreveport.
|The re-created church inside the fortification looks simple, but is
|If you're lucky enough to catch them, on-site historians sometimes
demonstrate cooking techniques over campfires and in this oven.