Cane River Creole National
Natchitoches, LA 71457
(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
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
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
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.
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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