In colonial Louisiana, the word “Creole” referred to any New World product, from architecture to livestock to human beings (and was not specific to any ethnicity). South of Natchitoches, Louisiana the Cane River National Heritage Area follows an abandoned meander of the Red River, with two antebellum cotton plantations protected as Cane River Creole National Historical Park. This National Park Service (NPS) site was authorized in 1994 and continues to be developed; meanwhile it provides an interesting perspective on a unique culture and excellent photographic opportunities.
Oakland Plantation, Magnolia Plantation, historic buildings, pecan picking
Oakland Plantation dates back to the late 1700s and survived the Civil War intact, but in the wake of Reconstruction tenant farming created a new form of indentured servitude. Self-guided tours of the site take you through the mule barn, general store, and several cottages. When we visited in November 2016, park volunteers were only offering one tour per day, but were happy to spend time talking with us inside the old general store. Slave/tenant quarters are also preserved at Magnolia Plantation downstream, but the main house (which was burned during the Civil War and rebuilt) is privately owned and closed to the public.
Nothing says you are in the South like the crooked branches of live oak trees. Live oaks drape over the bottle-lined garden at the Oakland Plantation main house.
All roads paved
Kisatchie National Forest has a small campground three miles north of Natchitoches off State Road 117.
Natchez National Historical Park (Mississippi)
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (Louisiana)
Poverty Point National Monument (Louisiana)
Explore More – Cane River National Heritage Area covers 40,000 acres, but how large is Cane River Creole National Historical Park?