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Fort Jesup

The Kitchen and Officer's Quarters at Fort Jesup
Photos of kitchen by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area Photo of Officer's Quarters by Rolanda Teal, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Fort Jesup, a state historic site, was built in 1822, 22 miles west of Natchitoches, to protect the United States border with Spain and to return order to the Neutral Strip. The Neutral Strip was created after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, from which arose a disagreement about the location of the border between the US and Spanish territories. In order to avoid a war, the two countries agreed that the land in contention would remain neutral and free of armed forces from either side. This region stretched from Sabine River to Arroyo Hondo and encompassed the land that now makes up modern Sabine Parish. The Neutral Strip remained devoid of government and law enforcement until the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 finally set the border at the Sabine River.

[photo] Interior of the kitchen at Fort Jesup
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Future U.S. President General Zachary Taylor was in charge of Fort Jesup for the entire time that it was active. He quickly subdued the Neutral Strip, gaining experience and popularity. His forces, known as the Army of Observation, remained in the fort and monitored the Texas territory as it passed from Spanish to Mexican control, and finally broke away as an independent republic. Taylor’s army participated in the Mexican War of 1846, gaining popularity for Taylor that would propel his political career.

After the United States won the Mexican War and gained control of Texas, Fort Jesup was rendered unnecessary. The fort was officially evacuated in 1846 and was allowed to deteriorate. In the 1930s, the only remaining building at Fort Jesup was the kitchen. Residents of the nearby town of Many raised money to restore the building and turned the area into a park. The site was acquired by the Louisiana Office of State Parks in 1956, and in 1961, the fort was designated a National Historic Landmark. Since then, the kitchen has been restored and decorated with historically accurate furniture. An officer’s quarter has been reconstructed, and now serves as a museum.

Fort Jesup, a State Historic Site, and a National Historic Landmark, is located about 30 minutes west of Natchitoches at 32 Geoghagan Rd. in Many. The fort is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, closed major holidays; there is a fee for admission. For group tours or further information, call 318- 256-4117 or 888-677-5378 or visit the fort's website.

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