In Louisiana, a county is called a parish. Plaquemines is a parish in Louisiana. As any school kid in Plaquemines and they’ll tell you that the parish is the “big toe of Louisiana’s boot” as this parish protrudes at the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Gulf coast. The parish is divided by the great river and this means that there’s fresh and salt water. Plaquemines is home to Venice – one of the best fishing destinations in the world. The parish depends on oil and gas exploration, fishing and agriculture for its livelihood. The 1927 Mississippi River flood destroyed most of the parish and the farmers embraced a new crop – citrus. Plaquemines now supplies the country with oranges, satsumas and mandarins.
Plaquemines is inhabited by a uniquefusion of German, French, Italian, Spanish Canary Islanders, Yugoslavian, African-American, Irish, Cajun, Vietnamese, and Native American people. This diverse cultural heritage is highlighted in various festivals celebrated annually in Plaquemines. The people of Plaquemines appreciate and treasure the recreational opportunities available in the parish, the all year round fishing and hunting and the quiet communities. They value historical landmarks such as the privately-owned Fort St. Philip and the parish-operated and owned Fort Jackson.
Fort St. Philip was staked by France and fortified by Spain. The United States occupied the old fort, which at present times is home to snakes and cattle. What was built near the mouth of the Mississippi River as protection for the vast waterway’s entry into the nation’s heartland seems to have been lost to neglect and utter lack of respect for history. Fort St. Philip is reeking in historical value as men fought and died there in two wars, making it such a rarity among the country’s other aged forts. This desperate condition of Fort St. Philip has prompted Plaquemines historians and government officials to initiate efforts to resurrect the old fort to bolster the economic situation of the parish by creating a national park that would include Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson which is owned and operated by the parish. From the economic point of view, a national park will tremendously boost the economy of Lower Plaquemines.
People behind the plan are hopeful that the national park would lure history enthusiasts and ecology-minded visitors who would drive for two hours or travel by tour boat from New Orleans to get a closer look and experience of Fort Jackson, Fort St. Philip and from Venice, enjoy gazing upon the rich marshland at the mouth of the Mississippi River. If the plans are approved, Plaquemines Parish will be able to maximize the tourism opportunities presented by the mouth of the river as the gateway to the state of Louisiana and the rest of the country.
The tourism study being made in relation to the creation of a national park system in the parish hopes to determine if Fort St. Philip should be preserved as a “ruin” in its current state without restoration. Everyone in Plaquemines is hopeful that the historical significance of the two important structures will be enough for the leaders to see the importance of preserving both forts.