Friday, October 14, 2005

Fort Jackson, Louisiana



I managed to scrounge up enough material on Fort Jackson, an important Civil War fortress 65 miles south of New Orleans, to actually do a post with some historical content. Remember when I used to do such posts regularly? Well, don’t get your hopes up ‘cause this will probably be just a one-off for the time being. Anyway, Fort Jackson is way down the Louisiana Delta, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, near the present-day town of Triumph, a bit north of Venice, LA. After Katrina I don’t know how much of this area remains. I imagine it got hammered badly. On the other hand, the fort was mostly bricks and low earthworks, so if it didn’t get completely washed out into the Gulf of Mexico it might still look pretty much as it did when I took these photos on the day after Easter, 2005.



Fort Jackson was the brainchild of namesake Andrew Jackson, who recommended to then-Secretary of War John C. Calhoun that a fort be built at the mouth of the Mississippi to keep out the Spanish. General Jackson was considered to be a military hero following the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 (yes, THAT battle, three years AFTER the War of 1812), so the U.S. Government listened to him. Fortifications had been on the site as early as 1746 and Fort Bourbon erected in the 1790’s. Promptly destroyed by a hurricane in 1795, Fort Bourbon was quickly rebuilt before slipping silently into obscurity. Construction on Fort Jackson was begun in 1822 and the fort finally occupied in 1832. Built in the shape of a pentagon, the red brick walls are 20 feet thick and the entire structure surrounded by a moat. The foundation is made of cypress logs laid so as to level the fort in the swampy ground.

In the 1840’s it had been thought that Fort Jackson might be an important stronghold in the Mexican War, but it wasn't. Jackson was then of only minor importance until the Civil War, when Louisiana seized the site for the Confederacy on January 8, 1861. The people of New Orleans felt safe knowing that Fort Jackson (and its sister fort, St. Philip, just to the east, on the other side of the river) were protecting them from the Union. Further, the mouth of the river had been obstructed with the wrecks of old ships and a heavy chain run from bank-to-bank. Yup, nothing like a big ol' chain to stop a boat. The Daily Picayune of New Orleans wrote: "By land we are impregnable and the coast and river's assailable points are susceptible to a degree of defense that floating wood or iron cannot make an impression." Well, that wasn’t quite right because on April 18, 1862 USN Commander David D. Porter's armada began shelling Fort Jackson. The barrage continued all night and one of Porter’s schooners was sunk. However, USN Flag Officer David G. Farragut's Western Gulf Blockading Squadron had been standing by and on April 20th breached Fort Jackson’s outer obstructions. Yet it took until the early morning of April 24th for Farragut’s ships to move past the two forts and fully engage the Confederate flotilla, eventually sinking or capturing thirteen vessels and breaking the back of the Confederacy’s naval presence on the Mississippi. The unhappy soldiers at Fort Jackson mutinied on April 27th and half the men left their posts. On April 28th, Confederate soldiers blew up their prized ironclad ship, aptly named the Louisiana, before CS Brigadier General Johnson K. Duncan surrendered both Forts Jackson and St. Philip to Commander Porter. Two-hundred and twenty-nine Union soldiers died in the battle along with 782 Confederates.

Following the Civil War, Fort Jackson became a prison and later a military training base. Thereafter, it was basically abandoned until 1898 when the threat of the Spanish-American war brought about a restoration and the addition of two large coastal guns. Fort Jackson became a training base once again in 1917-1918, during WWI, but afterward both it and Fort St. Philip were sold as surplus government property. Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Harvey of New Orleans bought Fort Jackson in 1927 and,in 1960, donated it to the Parish of Plaquemines for the purpose of restoring the fort and 82 acres of grounds. Jackson and St. Philip were immediately classified as National Historic Monuments, though Jackson was then called, “a veritable jungle with mud-filled tunnels infested with snakes.” Thus, levees were built to hold the river back and an automatic pumping station installed to keep the fort dry. Now, of course, one can’t help but wonder how those levees and pumps held up during Hurricane Katrina and what, if anything, might be left of old Fort Jackson. Anybody know? As for St. Philip, it's still privately owned, in bad repair, and was reportedly accessible only by boat BEFORE Katrina. It's probably gone now.



Thanks to Houghton Mifflin for info on the battle of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip and Civil War Album for historical detail on the life of Fort Jackson. Civil War Album notes that their information is courtesy of “the Fort Jackson tour guide” but whether this was a book or person I do not know.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was at Fort Jackson today, a little over three months post Katrina. It appears that Ft. Jackson stood up pretty well to the storm, although I can't speak for the museum in the old magazine.

Anonymous said...

I live in plaqumines parish about 45 minutes from the fort. I have some friends that would like to go and see it.I am planning on takeing them. I also have an air boat and we were going to go to fort st phillip. will let you know how that goes

Anonymous said...

My brother, my son and I visited Fort Jackson today (8/19). While the hurricane left pretty of trash and broken tree limbs through out the fort, it is in pretty good condition. The only major damage is the iron fence that ran around the top of the fort. The fort is open to anyone who is willing to climb the wall in the northeast corner. We took many pictures and are returning next Saturday to visit Fort St. Philip across the river.

Beau McInnis said...

Went and visited Fort St. Philip across from Fort Jackson. Find 2 mini balls in perfect shape. The fort took a beating from Hurricane Katrina but since this is my first visit, I really have nothing to compare it to. It was a great visit and very exciting to be there. We went 8/26/26 on a very hot Saturday and did not see one snake or gator. Lots of spiders! It is such a shame that the fort is being allowed to just fall apart and no ones does anything about it. If you love old houses or forts this is one that has to be seen.

Jmhouse said...

Thanks for the comment, Beau! I wish I'd managed to see Fort St. Philip when I was there last. I'll try to make it down sometime in the future, hopefully before the fort totally falls into ruin. Is it easily accessible? The last photo of the area I saw had shrimp boats still marooned on the main thoroughfare down the Delta.

Cmdrscotie said...

I flew over the fort today (24SEP06)and it looks fine. There are a few Bobcat mini-tractors inside sitting idle (it is Sunday). Basically looks structurally sound.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 12/19/06 I am working in Venice and am planning on visiting the fort on thursday, been here for months and didnt know it was there. Ill let you know how it looks.

Jmhouse said...

Did you make it to the fort? I'd love to know what shape it's in. Thanks for stopping by !

JM

Anonymous said...

I grew up in nearby Buras. The fort holds many great memories of weekend nights in high school for me. It's the place we'd go when we cut class to drink beer. It's also where most of us lost our virginity. I could never hear the name "Fort Jackson" and not crack a smile.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I grew up in the Buras-Triumph area. Ft. Jackson was the place to go on weekends and hang out. When our children came along it was still the place to go and hang out. We moved to TN long before Katrina but never missed a chance to visit the Fort when we visited our families down home. We have not had the chance to return since katrina but do plan on going down soon. It does not seem real to think about how much has changed to the place we still call home. Many have told us the area is no longer the same. We have to find out for ourselves. The old saying "There's no place like home" has now taken on a more personal meaning and the old fort will always live on as the place to hang out on weekends.

WORRIEDLACITIZEN said...

I recently visited Ft. Jackson. Its been nearly two years since Katrina, and they have closed the fort down. My parents and I went to visit it and the Plaquemine Parish government have put up large signs saying the park is closed to the public. Its a real shame they are letting this historical site go to waste. The fort it self seems like it stood up well to katrina but the silt has built up to the roof of some buildings. I really hope the restore this historical area.

Jmhouse said...

That sounds pretty grim. Silt up to the roof? Here's to hoping the fort is cleaned-up and re-opens soon. Thanks for the update!

John

Anonymous said...

Hey all- we were just there on 2-10-08 and it is open to the public and we walked around on the well manicured lawns and grounds. The fort itself is locked and we needed a key to get in. Well worth the stop and especially if you know the history of the area.

Jmhouse said...

Hmm, we're getting some conflicting accounts! I really hope that Fort Jackson is NOT silted under and that the lawn is well-manicured. Needing a key to get in is way better than having the fort forgotten about and abandoned.

Keep the reports coming!

John

MCB said...

On 1 Mar 08, myself and three friend drove from Keesler AFB to Ft Jackson. We were very disappointed to find it is not open to the public. The fort appears to be in great condition, someone is still mowing the grass, etc. So why is the fort closed??

We were easily able to climb into the fort for our own self guided tour and I found the inside in great shape! I wish the museum had been open but overall it was a great trip!
Interesting blend of Civil War and Spanish American War fortifications.
In addition we stopped at Fort Pike on the way home and found it is not open either. It is possible to sneak into this fort also but we declined going in.
I wish Louisiana would open these two great sites!

Jmhouse said...

Alright, I think we've got confirmation that the place is at least in decent shape and being maintained. I suppose Louisiana has had to cut pretty much all "unnecessary" expenditures and probably many necessary ones, too. As I recall, the museum only had a few items, one a small-scale replica of the original fort.

I'm glad the place is still there! And thanks for the report.

John

Civil War Traveler said...

Thanks everyone for the updates. I visited Fort Jackson in 2004 and there was a pretty good little museum in the casemate with lots of artifacts. However, it was obvious the museum was not cared for by professionally trained preservationists, but people with good intentions.

With the two treasures of Fort Jackson and Fort St. Phillip its at wonder why funding is not put toward restoring, preserving, and operating these two significant historic landmarks. Of course, this speaks volumes as to why Louisiana is the way it is.

Yes, hopefully, one day someone will intercede and take custody and care of these terrific American fortifications.

Anonymous said...

Today is May 12, 2008 and I live in Buras. The grounds of Fort Jackson is open but the fort itself is not. Many residents here would love to see the fort opened again one day. I'm pretty sure funding was given to restore the fort but the local government doesn't want that to happen. The fort was always a special place for the locals but the government simply does not want us here so they will not give us back anything we need down here in fear of repopulation of the area. Our parish leaders decided the money they received for the parish would be better to use on shrubbery for the highway in Belle Chasse. We recently held a very successful crawfish cook-off on the grunds of the fort. We used to have the annual Orange Festival eld at the fort also but again that was given to Belle Chasse. It is a shame that these forts are not being restored because the locals have a lot of hisory there also.

Civil War Traveler said...

It is a travesty that the local government does not want to preserve and share these two grand historic fortresses with the American public. Many American soldiers stood these ramparts through the years defending this nation, and it is a total lack of respect to their memory by letting these historic landmarks continue to decay.

If I had the financial resources I would personally go down there and assist in their ressurection.

I wish you the best in your endeavors to preserve these two grand fortresses of American military history.

leanna said...

I've recently heard that the parish is trying to give the forts to the state to make a State Park or something along that line. If you would like to know the legits, visit http://www.southplaquemines.com and click on history and there is an artcle written by parish historian about the state park proposal. I really hope they can get the proposal through, even though, us as residents would loose the fort to the state, it would at least be restored and respected as it should be.

leanna said...

I'm sorry you guys the correct website pertaining to the previous comment is http://www.southplaquemines.net not .com. Please visit the site and read more about the Fort Jackson.

Jmhouse said...

Thanks everybody for the updates on the forts of the Louisiana Delta. I sincerely hope that the May 20th meeting to discuss the proposed Lower Mississippi River National Park is fruitful. I also think that having the local community involved would be ideal, but if that is not possible then the care and restoration (and tourism) implied by creating a national park may be a very positive alternative. Best of luck and keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

8/1/08 - My sons and I wandered the grounds of Ft. Jackson today. Yes, it is sad to see it in need of repairs, but it is also inspiring to see a fortress of it's age still standing at all! It was obvious that storm surge had knocked down much of the east facing outer wall, and there is obvious signs of settling on at least two of the points on the east and north sides. We were unable to go inside the fort, although there were two gentlemen there locking up as we were leaving. The sign that the fort is not open to the public is still in place beside the bridge. The most significant damage at human hands is that of the ATV's using some of the landscape for jumping! Personally, I believe that the state isn't any more trustworthy than the parish with something this precious. Whatever needs to be done, would be best accomplished by a private institution whose interests are preservation of our great history. Government these days has it's hands full of the lawless, within and without! Just my two cents. Thanks so much for sharing the history, so I can pass it on to my sons.

Jmhouse said...

Thanks very much for the update. I'm glad the place is still hanging in there. Anybody know what happened regarding the National Park designation?

John

Anonymous said...

went to Fort Jackson after the 2009 Mardi Gras. if the pumping is not resumed, the Fort will be significantly damaged.

Jmhouse said...

Oh dear, is it back underwater again? Thanks for the info.

John

Lane said...

Jim,
Great images. I am working with the Parish to help design repairs to the Fort. Do you have more 2005 Easter images. Please let me know.
Lane
lburritt@johnmilnerassociates.com

Jason said...

I went to Forts Macomb and Pike on Menteur Pass and Rigolets near here 26 July 2009. Fort Pike was open to the public, Fort Macomb was closed to the public and surrounded by water. Does anyone have a recent update to Fort Jackson? I'm thinking about going down there this weekend.

Jmhouse said...

I haven't heard much about the recent shape of Fort Jackson myself. I've head that it was going to become part of the National Park system, that it's abandoned and falling apart and everything in between. Please let me know what you find if you make the trip there.

Best,

John

Anonymous said...

We visited Fort Jackson on 10/4/09 & it is closed to the public. I took lots of pictures but there's not much to see other than what you have here. It is a shame that it is being allowed to go to waste.

Jmhouse said...

I'm sorry to hear the fort is in bad shape. Last spring I heard that the parish was about to proceed with repairs. Did you see any sign of contruction? I wouldn't be real surprised if funding has fallen through. I may actually know a bit more soon. I'll post an update here if I do.

Thanks for the update, gloomy as it may be.

Jmhouse said...

Alright, the latest news re: Fort Jackson is that the extent of restoration is now contingent on how much funding comes through from FEMA. However, some repairs are already slated to be completed in time for next year's Orange Festival. I assume this means Fort Jackson will be open to the public again at that point.

J.

Elizabeth said...

Plaquemines Parish will be holding the annual Orange Festival at Fort Jackson once again in December 2010. The following is the official statement on the festival website.

http://www.orangefestival.com/
Organizers of the Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival are planning on 2010 being the year which the Festival will return to Historic Fort Jackson.

The 63 year old event had been held at the Fort since the 1970s when it moved from its original location in Buras. With the great destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005, organizers staged the event at the Medal of Honor Park in Belle Chasse where it has been held for the past 4 years and will again be held in December, 2009.

“We know there is a great desire in the South Plaquemines community to see the Orange Festival return to Fort Jackson,” said Board President Anthony Buras. “The board and membership agrees that South Plaquemines is indeed the true home of the Festival and we want to make the move back with sufficient improvements being in place to accommodate our event. We believe that can be accomplished by December, 2010,” he added. The decision of the Orange Festival board came after 2 general membership meetings held both in Belle Chasse and Port Sulphur where the matter was discussed. The progress and extent of the repairs completed at Fort Jackson by 2010 will determine if the event can be staged inside of the Fort as it was traditionally or if a new arrangement will be needed adjacent to the Fort.

JMHOUSE said...

Thanks for the update, Elizabeth. A lot of people have been wondering about the Orange Festival's return to Fort Jackson. I'm glad to hear that it's looking like it should be back in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Everyone,

This is great news. There needs to be traditional events, promotion, and certainly more preservation to create national awareness to this very important National Historic Landmark.

Are there any current plans for Fort Jackson to take part in the 150th Anniversary Commemoration events of the Civil War?

Anonymous said...

1/2/2010 I was at Ft. Jackson yesterday. The fort is closed to the public right now, not sure why or how long this will be the case.

The mote is full of water but doesn't look to be a problem. What I could see of the inside of the Fort it looks dry and clean. There are some structural cracks in the main walls that will be a problem in the future if they are not repaired. But from the out side the fort looks pretty good all things considered. The low wall outside the mote is in bad shape and is falling down in several places.

I have seen alot of old forts and this one is of classic design. I hope the state and/or goverment can come up with funds to do some restoration work soon before its too late. If would be a shame to loose such a historic land mark.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for the update! It sounds like there is cause for guarded optimism on the condition of Fort Jackson. Keep the updates coming! I'm pleased this site has become a kind of clearing house for Fort Jackson news.

Anonymous said...

went to fort today 2-09-10 to start repairs on the sewage waste pumping system. which i understand will be the first stage of repairs

jmhouse said...

That's great! I know many people will be pleased. Thanks very much for the update. It's nice to have some real first-hand information.

Best of luck!

John

Anonymous said...

I am visting Fort Jackson sometime in the first two weeks in April. What will I find? Will it be open or accessable in any way? Any information would be great

jmhouse said...

My guess is that the interior of Fort Jackson will still be closed to public access in April. However, that is just an educated guess. Perhaps someone else can give you an on-the-ground account. Anyone?

Thanks for stopping by.

John

bruce said...

We will be visiting New Orleans next week and would like to know if there is anyone running excursions to Ft. St. Philip.
Anyone with information on private or public excursions, or if anyone would be willing to take us out there (for a fee) we would love to hear from you.
Please contact me at: bruce@mywebsitewingman.com.
Thanks in advance for any information.

jmhouse said...

Bruce, I'm afraid I don't know of anyone running excursions or tours to either Ft. St. Philip or Fort Jackson at the moment. But if anyone out there is offering such a service (either public or private), please also leave your contact information here as I'm sure other folks would be interested.

Thanks for stopping by and best of luck locating someone to take you to the fort!

John

Bruce said...

Thanks John-
If I find something I will definitely let you know.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Plaquemines Parish all my life. Since Hurricane Katrina, I haven't been visiting the fort very often, but I used to go almost every week. I've never been to Fort St. Philip, but my friend went a few months ago, and he said that you can barely tell it's a fort. He said that the only things left are cement walls from Fort San Felipe that was built on the location while Spain controlled Louisiana. Before Hurricane Katrina, I lived in Triumph, Louisiana. I went to Buras High School and the football team played just outside the walls of fort jackson. I went to almost every game, but I didn't go inside the actual fort every time I went. I used to go inside the fort for special yearly events such as the Orange Festival. Since Katrina, The Orange Festival has been held in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. This will be the first year since Katrina that it will be held at the fort again. Katrina destroyed my home in Triumph and I am now living in Jesuit Bend, Louisiana.

jmhouse said...

Thank you very much for your comments and recollections. I'm sorry to hear that your home was destroyed. I was only through Triumph once, but I am familiar with the area. Hopefully you've been able to make a new start in Jesuit Bend.

I am glad to hear that the Orange Festival is being held at Fort Jackson this year. Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come. Perhaps someone can post an update after the fest.

Thanks again.

Best Regards,

John

Bill Thayer said...

Next month (Oct 2010) I'll have six days in Louisiana, and am hoping to see Ft. St. Philip. Websites out there say it's impossible to get to except by boat or copter. Is this still true? What is the nearest approach by car, and can one walk the rest of the way? I don't mind walking about 10-12 miles round trip if necessary, unless it's thru trackless bayou of course.

jmhouse said...

Hi Bill,

The last comment here re: Ft. St. Philips is from 8/26/06. Judging from that comment it seemed the fort was easy to access at that time. Of course, that was a few years ago now and there do seem to be occasional reports that the condition of the forts is getting worse. I have not heard anything about access to Ft. St. Philip since then. Perhaps someone will leave a comment here before your trip. If not, and you obtain some information or try to make the trip yourself, could you let us all know what you find? Lots of folks would appreciate it!

Thanks very much for your comment and good luck! The forts are well-worth visiting. Or at least TRYING to visit.

John

Elizabeth said...

Bill,

This is a link to The Plaquemines Historical Association. They have an email contact at the bottom of the page. Maybe you could pop into their meeting while you're here. It's on Hwy 23 right next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. http://www.southplaquemines.net/SP/History.html

This is a link to a video produced by the Times-Picayune on the fort in 2009. Historian Rod Lincoln is speaking and images are shown of the fort. They say in the video that the fort is accessible only by boat.
http://videos.nola.com/times-picayune/2009/03/fort_st_philip_tour.html

Fort Jackson remains closed as well.
In lieu of visiting the forts, and if you want to get off the beaten path of touristy things, you might enjoy a ride "down the road" as we say down here. Follow Hwy 23 all the way to the end. You can see the oil spill operations center set up. It's beautiful country. The road literally ends with a sign stating that you're at the southernmost point in LA. Also, along Hwy 23 is Woodland Plantation. Not open for tours but is a bed and breakfast and is the home pictured on the front of the Southern Comfort bottle.

I also recommend a visit to Barataria Preserve for a great walk through the swamp. It's beautiful.
http://www.nps.gov/jela/barataria-preserve.htm
I also recommend dinner near there at Restaurant Des Familles right on the bayou. Watch the gators while you eat. There are also swamp boat tours in that area as well.

Hope all of this is helpful.

Elizabeth

jmhouse said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Many thanks for your comment. The video of Ft. St. Philip was totally fascinating. It's the best look at the fort I've ever seen, having never been there myself. Thanks for passing that along. And I guess it is only accessible by boat, to say the least. Hopefully Bill reads your comment as I think it'll be of much use.

Incidentally, I also highly recommend the drive down Hwy 23. When I drove it, just prior to Katrina, we couldn't get to the very end as there was flooding at Venice, LA. But it was still a great drive that I recall fondly to this day. I hope to drive it again sometime.

Once more, thanks for the excellent information!

John

jmhouse said...

I forgot that I actually wrote a bit about my trip down the LA Delta just before Katrina hit. I titled it LAND'S END and I don't actually remember writing most of it! It does seem to hint at events that were, at that time, exactly one month off. But right now I just figured I'd post the link in homage to Highway 23.

JM

Elizabeth said...

Sorry you didn't get to make it to the end of the road. That's the best part. I do find your imagery and observations ironic on your journey just before Katrina.
Elizabeth

Mike Bravo said...

Great blog!!! Alway enjoy the updates, etc on this interesting historic site!

Elizabeth said...

Bill, I'd be interested to hear how your trip to Louisiana went. Did you make it to Fort St. Phillip?
Elizabeth

Elizabeth said...

Some info from the parish about some recently discovered canon fragments at the fort.
https://secure.systememerge.com/preview-13620-f4716232.html

tennie belle said...

i know the fort in and out, we went camping on the beach right pass the fort may times, we had a joke that we should just put a mailbox out there, thats how offten we use to go, we have been back once since katrina, the fort was actually closed, we walked all around the fort (this was sept. '09) no safe entrance,, my fondest memory in the fort was the small opening to the right, pass the gift/museum door(on opposite side), me and my sister would slide through the hole to the other side, and rolling down the big hill to the left center as you walk in...and i remember the jail cells and the confinement cell w/ iron door....i remember much more but not enough time to tell!!

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your recollections, tennie belle. Fort Jackson is clearly a well-loved place. Your comment got me thinking about the state of Fort Jackson and, it turns out, Fort Jackson was re-opened on December 5, 2010 for the first time since Katrina. That is great news! The opening was held in conjunction with the Orange Festival and a full report can be found HERE.

Fort Jackson will re-open officially early this spring. Now, who's going to be the first to go visit?

JM

Bill Thayer said...

Very, very late — sorry John and Elizabeth, but also thank you! since I've read and stored away your information — I never went at all: unhappy personal reasons, and no trip. I still do very much hope to go.

jmhouse said...

Hi Bill,

Sorry to hear you didn't make the trip to Fort Jackson. On the upside, when you do go you'll more than likely find the fort open and accessible.

Thanks for checking-in!

Best Regards,

JM

Elizabeth said...

Some of our comments here have included discussions involving Fort St. Philip. This is a local story done this week. Thought some of you may find interesting. And if you're thinking of trying to find a way out there, keep in mind that there are lots of water mocassins.

http://www.fox8live.com/content/news/heartoflouisiana/story/Heart-of-Louisiana-Fort-St-Phillip/wNo6QP3nOU-OXcO8fS9MwQ.cspx

jmhouse said...

That's some great video footage. I was never able to make it to Ft. St. Phillip for the obvious reasons, and that's some of the best documentation I've seen. Thanks for the link, Elizabeth.

JM

jmhouse said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. That was a great feature on Fort St. Philip, which I've never visited for the obvious reasons (snakes being least among them!).

JM

Roger and Toni said...

We stopped for a visit to Fort Jackson on August 8, 2011. The fort was open and a crew was mowing the grounds while we were there. The museum was empty but the air conditioning sure felt good!

jmhouse said...

It's great to hear that Fort Jackson is open and that there's even some maintenance of the grounds going on. I recently heard that one of the oldest buildings I'd explored in Augusta, Georgia, the Goodale Inn, built in 1799, has partially collapsed from neglect, so it's nice to get some good news.

Thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Buras in the late 50s and early 60s. I visited Fort Jackson before it was cleaned up and opened to the public for festivals and holiday events, which I think was in '61-'63. I moved away after my home was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy, Sept. '65, after finishing the school year in May '66. Sad thing was 40 yrs to the week, another storm would again devastate the area. Fort Jackson was a tourist destination then, why wouldn't it be again if it were to be restored, being that not much is left in the southern part of the parish. Louisiana politics, what else can be said. I look forward to visiting in the very near future, so much has changed since I've been back there. Can you still travel the old Hwy 23? I remember evacuating in '65, it took an hour to travel less than 20 miles. I guess the new highway solves that problem but I bet it's not as scenic. Any updates on the fort and highway would be appreciated.
Thanks, RH. 12/22/11

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your recollections, RH. They're much appreciated. I didn't realize that Betsy and Katrina occurred almost exactly 40 years apart. Evacuating via Hwy 23 must've been rough.

Speaking of which, I believe Hwy 23 is open but I don't know its condition at the very southern extent. Maybe someone will read this and provide an update on condition along that final stretch south of Boothville or Venice.

As for the fort, I think it has been re-opened and restored to some degree. My understanding is that restoration continues and Fort Jackson isn't in such dire circumstances any longer. It's all been good news for the ol' fort lately.

Thanks again!

JM

Elizabeth said...

RH,
I live in Belle Chasse. 23 is open all the way to Venice. I have only lived her for a little over 2 years so I don't know what the road used to look like, but I think it's a pretty drive. I have gone all the way to the end of the road where the sign is telling you you're at the southern most point of LA.

I haven't been able to visit the fort, but they have held the Orange Festival there for the last 2 years. I believe there is a push and an effort on the part of the parish to make it a tourist destination again in the future.

As far as recovery is concerned, I think folks down the road were just starting to recover from Katrina when the oil spill happened. That devastated many of the recovering fishermen. There are some great non-profits doing what they can to help the people down there.

Hope you can make it back someday. My husband is Navy so we will be moving next year. I will miss this little parish and the New Orleans area.

Anonymous said...

4-24-12~~
I've lived in Plaquemines Parish my entire life. Up until Hurricane Katrina I lived in Triumph, about 2 miles or so from Fort Jackson. "The Fort" is very dear to most of us who grew up here. There is so much history there. As important as it is, I'm not talking about Louisiana history or American history. I'm talking about memories. Memories that so many of us have. We enjoyed so much there. The Orange Festival, which but the way, is again, held there every year on the first full weekend in December. We went to the pirogue races that the local Lions Club sponsored. We went to football games on Friday nights, whether you were an Oiler fan, or a Wildcat fan, "The Fort" on a Friday night was the place to be. We met up with friends on the weekends to swing on the rope in "the horse shoe" or went to the beach, which was actually the river. We parked under the oak trees by the mote, hung out with our friends and drank beer. I remember volunteering for Special Olympics on the football field. We went to baseball games that were played on the field next to the stadium. We went there on a nice windy day because it was the perfect place to fly a kite. Some of us even learned to drive at the fort. i could go on and on about my memories of the fort. Having grown up in a town where there wasn't much to do, i't was awesome having "the Fort" to go to.

Anyways, let me get to the reason I am posting tonight. This past weekend, there was a War Reenactment held at the fort. If you would like to see pictures go to Facebook.com and search for Historic Plaquemines Parish. There's a lot of pictures (old and new) of Fort Jackson posted there. Enjoy!

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your memories and the update, Anonymous! They're much appreciated. I'm very happy that Fort Jackson is coming back to life again. Hopefully people will have a look at the Facebook site, too. I'm just waiting for my friend request to be accepted to check it out! JM

Anonymous said...

20 Aug 2013 my wife and I visited Ft. Jackson last week. It was chained and locked. The grounds were mowed . We were able to walk all the way around outside the moat tho we did have to crawl over the wall on the backside due to two large uprooted trees which were also preventing that area from being kept mowed. The moat did have a green scum covering the water and trash floating. The fort walls have several bad vertical cracks from top to the ground. As others have said, it is sad to see a piece of history being allowed to deteriorate.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for the update, Anonymous. It'd been awhile since I'd heard anything about Fort Jackson and, as I'd feared, that didn't bode well. I believe I read that the fort was back under water last year. After Katrina, I didn't know if it could come back from a second flooding and it sounds like maybe it hasn't. But there's still hope. It is a pretty sturdy place, after all.

So, keep those updates coming, folks! JM