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Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Cane River Creole National Historical Park - BEST Places to Picnic

400 Rapides Drive
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Phone
Headquarters
(318) 352-0383
Oakland Plantation
(318) 356-8441 ext. 200

WELCOME to Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Cane River Creole National Historical Park is located within the Cane River National Heritage Area in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The United States National Historical Park protects a total of 67 historic structures at two locations, Magnolia Plantation and Oakland Plantation. 

Both plantation sites lie along the Cane River. The park was established by the U.S. Congress in 1994 in order to preserve examples of French and Creole architecture and to interpret the multi-cultural history of the area.

Due to the preservation and restoration work in progress on the historic structures in the park, limited services are available to the public. Tours of Oakland Plantation are available to the public but the buildings of Magnolia Plantation can only be visited with prior reservations.

Because of the significance of these sites, the park is one of the destinations on the state's Louisiana African American Heritage Trail

The Cane River

Meandering alongside the plantations, the Cane River has provided transport, sustenance, and entertainment for area residents for many generations.

Visitors to the plantations marvel at the massive pecan and live oak trees that support lacey lengths of green-gray Spanish moss. A similar dynamic is seen in way that the constancy and strength of the region's cultures support a contemporary population of residents who are resourceful, fun-loving, and family-oriented. 

Tempered growth in the Cane River region maintains the intimacy of these fragile, embraceable landscapes- which is the distinctive environment of Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

The Term "Creole"

The term Creole means many things to many people. Creole, used in its original sense, is derived from the Portugese crioulo, meaning "native to this place".

In 18th century Louisiana, Creole referred to locally born Spaniards, French and enslaved people. After the Louisiana Purchase, Creole was used to differentiate between those native to Louisiana and those who were Anglo-American. Consequently, French-speaking white residents of Louisiana were also considered Creole. 

Today, the term Creole commonly refers to a mixture of predominantly French, African and Spanish traits with traces of American Indian culture. It is the intense pride in and attachment to one's ancestry and culture that is key to understanding what it means to be Creole. This manifests itself in architecture, religious practices, foodways, and language.

Oakland and Magnolia Plantations

Both Oakland and Magnolia Plantations owe their physical integrity to the families that kept them intact for seven and eight generations.

Descendents of the plantations' owners and descendents of the plantations' laborers remained on the land through periods of prosperity and depression, war and peace, and dramatic changes in governments, agriculture, technology, and labor systems.

The French Prud'homme family began farming the land at Oakland in 1785. Magnolia traces its mid-18th century origin to the French LeComte family, and also to the German Hertzog family.

The skills and strengths of enslaved African-Americans are evident in the buildings they constructed on both Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. Descendents of many enslaved residents remained on the land as tenant farmers and sharecroppers. The vibrant African American communities in the Natchitoches region today trace two hundred years of cultural history to this fertile land surrounding the Cane River.

Picnics

Currently, the Prud'homme Store serves as the visitor center for Oakland Plantation. Oakland Plantation has an entrance pavilion with picnic tables and accessible restrooms. Self-guiding maps of the plantation are available in the pavilion.

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