Louisiana's Creole National Historical Park
Oakland Plantation owes its physical integrity to a French family who kept it intact for eight generations.
Although Oakland Plantation, located near Natchitoches, Louisiana, contains a fine example of a raised Creole plantation main house, even more important are the 27 historic outbuildings that still stand on the property. This rare wealth of buildings allows visitors to more completely understand life on a plantation. A French family began farming the land at Oakland in 1785 and built the house in 1821. Before the Civil War, large plantations often functioned more like small villages than farms.
The skills and strength of enslaved African-Americans are evident in the buildings they constructed on Oakland Plantation. The vibrant African-American communities in the Natchitoches region today trace 200 years of cultural history to this fertile land surrounding the Cane River.
By the early 1800s, cotton was becoming Oakland’s main cash crop, with the labor of a growing slave community fueling its expansion. After the Civil War, farming continued under new conditions, with many of the freed workers remaining on as sharecroppers or tenant farmers. A plantation commissary replaced the issuing of rations with a central location to buy supplies on credit against a year’s harvest. This store also doubled as a rural post office for about 100 years.
In 1998, Oakland Plantation was acquired by the National Park Service. Today it is open daily for tours. A working plantation, Oakland, a National Historic Landmark, offers insight into the everyday lives of all of the people whose lives were centered around this fertile ground for more than 200 years.
Cane River Creole National Historical Park at Oakland Plantation is located on Highway 494, 12 miles south of Natchitoches. For more information, call 318-356-8441 or visit http://www.nps.gov/cari/