2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2016-17 through 2021-22


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Fort Pike State Historic Site

Fort Pike State Historic Site is currently closed to the public.

27100 Chef Menteur Highway
New Orleans, LA 70129

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The site is located off US 90, approximately 23 miles east of downtown New Orleans. It is also accessible from I-10 via LA 11 South, and turning left on US 90.

30.166751, -89.737294.


Begun in 1819 and completed in 1826, Fort Pike was named for the explorer and soldier General Zebulon Montgomery Pike (1779-1813) whose name is also attached to Pike's Peak in the Rocky Mountains. Fort Pike is the first of the Third System fortifications, a group of brick and masonry structures built between 1816 and 1867. The fort was designed to withstand attack from land or sea.

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Although the United States survived the War of 1812, the British destruction of our nation's capital and their attack on New Orleans emphasized the weakness of our country's defense. To prevent a foreign invasion from occurring again, President James Monroe ordered the placement of an extensive coastal defense system. These new fortifications, together with existing ones, stretched along the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts and protected strategic ports and rivers such as New Orleans and the Mississippi. Forts Pike and Macomb (also called Fort Wood) were two of six new masonry forts built in coastal Louisiana at this time. Together with Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the Mississippi River and Fort Livingston on Barataria Bay, these fortifications protected New Orleans from a seaborne invasion.

The original armament of Fort Pike consisted of 32-pounder and 24-pounder cannons; the exact number of each type is unknown. At various times the fort held other types of cannons. The wartime garrison was approximately 400 men; in peacetime it varied between one and 80 soldiers.

 Fort Pike's role in the military affairs of the United States prior to the Civil War varied considerably. During the Seminole Wars in the 1830s, Fort Pike served as a staging area for many troops en route to Florida, and also as a collection point for hundreds of Seminole prisoners and their black slaves who were being transported to Oklahoma. Cannons were removed from some of the casemates to convert them to cells. At one point in this conflict, only 66 soldiers guarded 253 Indian and black prisoners.

Similarly, during the Mexican War in the 1840s, Fort Pike was a stopover for soldiers bound for Texas and Mexico. In between these wars, Fort Pike was largely abandoned and left in the care of a single ordnance sergeant.

In 1861, the silence of Fort Pike was broken. Before the actual start of the Civil War, the Louisiana militia captured the fort. Confederates held it until the Union forces took New Orleans in 1862, whereupon the Confederates evacuated Fort Pike. Union forces then reoccupied the fort, using it as a base for raids along the Gulf coast and Lake Pontchartrain area and as a protective outpost for New Orleans. The Union also used Fort Pike as a training center, where former slaves were taught to use heavy artillery. These troops became part of the United States Colored Troops, who played an important role in the outcome of many battles, including the siege at Port Hudson. Yet, in spite of all this activity, not a single cannonball was ever fired in battle from Fort Pike.

Fort Pike was again left to the care of an ordnance sergeant from 1871 until it was officially abandoned in 1890. In 1972 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, an honorary designation for significant historic sites.

Fort Macomb
Fort Macomb, a 19th-century United States brick fort listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is on Chef Menteur Pass and was constructed to protect New Orleans as part of President Monroe’s 3rd system of fortifications. The United States built the current brick fort in 1822 as Fort Wood. It was renamed Fort Macomb in 1851 after General Alexander Macomb, former Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the US Army. The main works of Macomb and Pike are almost identical to each other (Fort Pike being the larger of the two) and the initial construction was taken on by the same contractors, James Bennett and Peter Morte. The fort saw the most of its military action during the Civil War when a Confederate States of America garrison took control of and occupied the fort early in the American Civil War. The Union regained control of the fort after the occupation of New Orleans. In 1867, the barracks caught fire, after which the fort was largely abandoned by the US Army. It was decommissioned in 1871.

Fort Macomb is not open to the public.

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Nearby Attractions

Fontainebleau State Park (South of I-12 and southeast of Mandeville on US 190) - Located on 2,800 acres on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the park offers 126 improved campsites, 200 unimproved campsites, nature trails, 3 group camps, a lodge, a swimming pool and beach, a playground and the ruins of a plantation brickyard and sugar mill situated among an alley of towering oaks.

Fairview Riverside State Park (25 miles east of Madisonville on LA Hwy. 22) - Nestled among magnificent live oaks on the edge of the cool clear waters of the Tchefuncte River, this park features 81 improved campsites, 20 tent sites, excellent fishing, canoeing and picnicking. A nearby boat ramp offers access to the park and Lake Pontchartrain. Otis House, built in the 1880s, offers visitors a glimpse into local history through special programs offered year-round.

St. Bernard State Park (18 miles southeast of New Orleans at Poydras) - Located on the Mississippi River, just minutes from New Orleans, the park features 51 improved campsites, a covered pavilion with grill, picnic tables, playground, swimming pool and nature trail in a tranquil and quiet setting.

Bayou Segnette State Park (7777 Westbank Expressway, Westwego) - Minutes from New Orleans, the park offers 98 improved campsites, wave pool, conference center, playgrounds, picnic tables and pavilions, a large boat launch, and abundant wildlife.

Tammany Trace (Koop Drive, Mandeville) - The 31-mile rail trail is open from Slidell to Abita Springs. It is a popular spot for cyclists, horseback riding, runners, skaters and walkers.

Louisiana State Museum (French Quarter, New Orleans) - One of New Orleans' top ten attractions, the State Museum is comprised of the Cabildo, Presbytère, 1850 House and the Old U.S. Mint.