Plaquemines Parish History
The Naming and Founding of Plaquemines
Plaquemines Parish was founded on March 31, 1807, when the territory of New Orleans was divided into nineteen parishes. The name “Plaquemines” derives from Louisiana French Creole and the Atakapa word “piakimin,” meaning persimmons, which is a type of edible fruit originally found in the area.
First Mardi Gras in the New World
Another interesting fact that many are unaware of is that Plaquemines Parish serves as the home to the very first Mardi Gras in the United States. In 1699, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville settled about sixty miles below what is now New Orleans. This was on March 3, the date of Mardi Gras in France, so Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and called the small tributary nearby Bayou Mardi Gras in honor of the holiday. This initial point of landing is located in what is now Plaquemines Parish.
What The Area Is Known For
With Plaquemines Parish having the most combined land to water ratio in the State of Louisiana as well as its central location where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Plaquemines Parish has become the epitome of a sportsman’s paradise with its numerous fishing and hunting grounds. Plaquemines Parish is a major contributor to Louisiana’s developing and abundant seafood industry by producing millions of pounds of shrimp, oysters, crabs and fish each year.
Plaquemines Parish contains three US National Historic Landmarks including, Fort De La Boulaye, Fort St. Philip, and Fort Jackson.
Fort De La Boulaye
Fort De La Boulaye, originally called Mississippi Fort, is one of the earliest sights in Louisiana, founded in 1700 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. The fort was built by the French to help their efforts in taking possession over the Mississippi River. However, by 1707, they were forced to vacate by Native Americans. Today, the site sits on a low ridge surrounded by swamp ground with no physical trace of the fort remaining above ground. Unfortunately, all that distinguishes this area from the rest is a historical marker.
Fort St. Philip
Fort St. Philip was constructed along with Fort Jackson to act as a coastal defense for New Orleans and the Mississippi River. It was the site of a 12-day siege in April 1862 by the Union army during the American Civil War. The site was heavily damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and is now privately owned and only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Fort Jackson, the most well-known of the forts located in Plaquemines Parish, was constructed in 1822 after the War of 1812 to serve as a coastal defense of New Orleans on the advice of Andrew Jackson. It was the site of the famous Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip during the Civil War. The fort fell on April 28, 1862, to the Union army, which led to the Union gaining control of New Orleans and turning the fort into a Union Prison. Fort Jackson served as training station in World War I and is now owned and operated as a historical museum by Plaquemines Parish. Fort Jackson is also home to the annual Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival which welcomes visitors from all over to enjoy the unique culture and tastes of south Louisiana.