Founded in 1714, Natchitoches bears the distinction of being the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. The original parish was quite large, for it contained the modern-day parishes of Caddo, Claiborne, Webster, and Bossier, as well as parts of Lincoln, DeSoto, Bienville, Winn, and Grant.
The first settlers are believed to have been the Natchitoches Indians, members of the Caddo Confederacy. During the French colonial period, Natchitoches served as a military fort and primary center of trade between the Indians and Spanish Texas. The area was also a vital commercial center until the Red River radically changed its course in 1839, thereby leaving Natchitoches without a port.
The economy of Natchitoches Parish is based on cattle, light manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.
One of the best times to visit Natchitoches is during the Christmas season, when the town transforms into the "City of Lights." Five major festivals are held in conjunction with the Christmas Festival of Lights, an annual spectacular lighting display in the month of December. Throughout the year however, tourists can visit the various museums, art galleries, and theaters while lodging at one of the many bed & breakfast establishments found throughout the parish. Tourists can also capture the spirit of the historic past through the unique architecture, Natchitoches’ Historic Landmark District, The Kate Chopin Home, and Melrose, Magnolia, and Beau Fort Plantations. Natchitoches Parish is also home to the National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, the National Center for Historic Preservation, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and Fort St. Jean Baptiste.
by Alana A. Carmon
Events and Festivals
Festival of Lights (Natchitoches)
Cane River Music Festival (Oakland Plantation)
Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival (Melrose Plantation)
Historic Sites, Plantations & Museums
Melrose Plantation (Melrose)
Oakland Plantation (Bermuda)
Kate Chopin House (Cloutierville)
Magnolia Plantation Complex (Derry)
Rebel Historic Site & Louisiana Country Music Museum (Marthaville)
Los Adaes State Historic Site (Robeline)
Fort Jesup State Historic Site (Robeline)
Adai Indian Nation Cultural Center (Robeline)
Louisiana Sports Hall Of Fame (Natchitoches)
Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site (Natchitoches)