One facet of Louisiana that makes it such an appealing visitor destination is its deep and colorful history. European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
Marksville was founded by accident. Here, in the 1790s, a Venetian peddler named Marco broke a wagon wheel along his travels, and decided to stay and set up a trading post. The resulting town offers visitors a patchwork of colonial history—and more. The 1820 Hypolite-Bordelon House is a window into the life of early European settlers. Fort De Russy was built during the Civil War to defend the Red River. On the prehistoric side, Marksville State Historic Site features a Native American ceremonial center. The first inhabitants of the Marksville area are honored with the annual Fete du Ble Indian Festival. The modern presence of Native Americans is on spectacular display at the 500-room Paragon Casino & Resort, owned by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Natural areas, such as Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area and the Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote National Wildlife Preserves, give hunters, fishermen and nature lovers their due.