Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site
After the Battle of Mansfield, halting the Union advance to the West in Spring of 1864, Forts Randolph and Buhlow were constructed on the Red River at Alexandria by Confederates in order to repel future Union attacks through Northwest Louisiana. Construction, completed by March 1865, was under the command of Cpt. Christopher M. Randolph and supervised by a military engineer, Lt. Alphonse Buhlow, for whom the forts are named. A third and larger fort, planned for the Alexandria side of the river, was never built.
The earthen forts, constructed using local plantation slave labor, were fortified with cannon and over 800 soldiers. In addtion to a Confederate troop buildup in the Alexandria area, the Confederate ironclad Missouri was anchored in the river opposite Fort Randolph, but the anticipated attack never came and no fighting over took place. In May of 1865, the Confederates surrendered to Union forces, and the forts where occupied for a short while by the Union before being abandoned at the end of the war.
Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site also includes the remains of Bailey’s Dam. Bailey’s Dam, remarkable for its design and the amount of time required in constructing it, allowed for the Union Fleet, under the command of Admiral David Porter, to escape below the rapids on the Red River at Alexandria during the Union retreat after the battle of Mansfield. Called “one of the greatest engineering feats of the Civil War,” The dam designed by Colonel Joseph Bailey has left a lasting mark on the history of the region. The site is today commemorated with interpretive signage and a scenic overlook of the Red River.
Located on Red River in downtown Pineville, the site includes a visitor center with exhibits on the Civil War Red River Campaign, an elevated boardwalk around the fort area, with an overlook near Bailey's Dam site, and an open field for Civil War re-enactments. Forts Randolph & Buhlow were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Kent House (3601 Bayou Rapides Road, Alexandria) - The plantation house is one of the oldest standing structures in the state of Louisiana.Standing on the original land grant from the King of Spain to Pierre Baillio II, it offers a glimpse of the French, Spanish and American cultures that have influenced Louisiana.
Alexandria Zoological Park (3016 Masonic Drive, Alexandria) - Founded in 1926, the park encompasses 33 shady acres, and is home to more than 500 animals. The African Experience: Phase 1, which opened in 2003, and the award winning Louisiana Habitat, which opened in 1998, are two of the zoo's most spectacular exhibits.
Louisiana History Museum (503 Washington Street, Alexandria) - The museum houses one of the largest genealogical libraries in the state, along with over 50 displays of local historical objects from prehistoric time till now.
Arna Wendell Bontemps Museum (1327 3rd Street, Alexandria) - Dedicated to the life of a noted Black poet, author, anthologist and librarian, the museum highlights the life of Arna Bontemps and his writings of 20 books, plays, and anthologies; he also was considered the leading authority on the Harlem Renaissance.
Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum (409 F Street, Pineville) - The museum provides a look into local and national military history and serves as a reminder of the dedication on the part of men and women who served and continue to serve in out nation's armed forces.
Marksville State Historic Site (837 Martin Luther King Drive, Marksville) - The mounds at this site date from 300-700 A.D., and archaeological efforts provided many jobs during the Great Depression. Marksville State Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1964.
Southern Forest Heritage Museum (77 Long Leaf Road, Long Leaf) - A complete sawmill complex, spread over a 57 acre area, dates from the early 20th century, and has the most complete collection of steam-powered logging and milling equipment known to exist. Among the exhibits are 3 locomotives, a skidder and loader used in the transportation of the logs.
Chicot State Park (3469 Chicot Park Road, Ville Platte) - The park covers 6,000 acres of rolling hills and includes a fish-rich 2,000-acre reservoir. Picnicking, swimming in the Olympic-sized pool, hiking, bicycling, and birding are popular activities. Also available are 200 improved campsites, backpacking camps, primitive group campsites, 27 vacation cabins, three lodges, nature/hiking/backpacking trails encircling the lake, playgrounds, and pavilions.
Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site (155 rue Jefferson, Natchitoches) - Located on the banks of historic Cane River, the fort is a full-scale replica of a French colonial fort built in the 1730s. Featured are log walls sharpened to protect the barracks, a warehouse, chapel, mess hall, powder magazine, Indian dwellings and interpretive programs.
South Toledo Bend State Park (16 miles west of Anacoco, off LA Hwy. 191) - Set on the scenic bluffs of the southern end of the Toledo Bend Reservoir, the park offers cabins, campsites, a visitor center with meeting room facilities and a paved nature trail. A boat launch provides a route to some of the best fishing in the nation.
Hodges Gardens State Park (6 miles south of Florien on Hwy. 171) - Cabins and campsites offer overnight accommodations and day-use visitors will enjoy the nature trails and extensive picnic area. Water from the 225-acre lake is pumped through an extensive system of pools and waterfalls, adding to the beauty of the formal gardens.