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Natchitoches City Hall

Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches

Natchitoches ( ) is a city in and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parishmarker, Louisianamarker, United Statesmarker. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the Natchitoches Indian tribe. The City of Natchitoches was first incorporated on February 5, 1819. It is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches's sister city is Nacogdoches, Texasmarker. The population was 17,865 at the 2000 census. It is the home of Northwestern State Universitymarker, founding as a normal school in 1884.

Natchitoches is the principal city of the Natchitoches Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Natchitoches Parish.


Natchitoches was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. It is the oldest permanent settlement within the borders of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches was founded as a French outpost on the Red Rivermarker for trade with Spanish-controlled Mexicomarker, with the French presence beginning as early as 1699. The settlement's site was established near a village of Natchitoches Indians which give the city its name.

After the Louisiana Purchase, Natchitoches experienced a population boom, and several plantations were built along the Red Rivermarker. However, the course of the river shifted, bypassing Natchitoches and cutting off its lucrative connection with the Mississippi River. A lake was left in the river's previous location.

It became known as Cane River Lakemarker. The lake runs through the city’s downtown historic district and Plantation Country. It serves as the spring break training location for numerous crew teams, such as Kansas State Universitymarker, University of Kansasmarker, Wichita State Universitymarker, Murray State Universitymarker, and Washington Universitymarker.

Natchitoches was the site of the 1973 plane crash that claimed the life of singer Jim Croce. Croce had just performed a concert on campus for Northwestern State University students at Prather Coliseum but was killed less than an hour later in a plane crash headed to Shermanmarker, Texasmarker. The pilot was unable to climb over a pecan tree, possibly due to a fatal heart attack since he had excellent visibility.

In 2005, the cartoonist and historian Pap Dean published Historic Natchitoches: Beauty of the Cane, a study of the history, people, and attractions of the historic city, considered the first or second oldest in the state, with Harrisonburgmarker, the seat of Catahoula Parishmarker, being the other original settlement.


Natchitoches is located at (31.754123, -93.095085) and has an elevation of .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.1 square miles (65.1 km²), of which, 21.6 square miles (55.8 km²) of it is land and 3.6 square miles (9.2 km²) of it (14.21%) is water.

A long lake was formed from a portion of the Red Rivermarker when it changed course, which is now known as Cane River Lakemarker.

Natchitoches is located about:
  • Alexandria 50 Miles
  • Shreveport 70 Miles
  • New Orleans, LA 250 Miles
  • Houston, TX 230 Miles
  • Dallas, TX 255 Miles
  • Little Rock, AR 260 Miles
  • Jackson, MS 230 Miles
  • Monroe, Louisiana 109 Miles
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 435 Miles


Soils in this area are a combination of leaf mold and red clays, sand and sediments. The area is part of the Chestnut Salt Dome.


Weather-wise, Natchitoches lies in a boundary region that separates the plains of Texasmarker from the consistently humid Gulf Coast. This gives Natchitoches summers a heavy dose of both heat and humidity. Winters in Natchitoches are relatively mild, with measurable snowfall once every 5–10 years.Natchitoches averages of rain per year. The City is also in the area of producing severe thunderstorms, hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes Natchitoches has installed some Whelen Sirens


City Bank and Trust Company is one of several financial institutions in downtown Natchitoches.

In the 1970s, Natchitoches experienced an economic downturn that resulted in a sixty-five percent vacancy in the commercial district. However, because of efforts to revitalize the city, vacancy is now about 1 percent.

The Port of Natchitoches—a river port on the Red Rivermarker--is located off of the east bound part of U.S. Route 84 just outside Natchitoches. The port exports lumber from stockyards onsite, as Forestry is a large industry in the area as well.

The Natchitoches Regional Airportmarker serves cities (via FBO) such as Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, New Orleans, Monroe, and Shreveport. It is also adjacent to Northwestern State Universitymarker; together they offer state-of-the-art flight training. Currently the airport is being renovated to become one of the country's most advanced non-towered airports.

The Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is also based here. They handle over 6 species of fish and other wildlife.

The city has to do little to promote its tourism industry, which brings a host of business during the holiday seasons of Christmas and New Year's. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival is a well known celebration of the holidays for locals.

Since completion of Interstate 49, many business have either moved or have been built outside the city's central area. Gas stations and hotels have developed in this area and serve many of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival visitors.

Pecans are a staple of the area with a pecan orchard located on the old Little Eva Plantation.

Natchitoches is an economic hub for the entire parish of the same name.

In 1998, Natchitoches was named one of the top six places in the United States to retire by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

Natchitoches is the home of the oldest general store in Louisiana, the still operating Kaffie-Frederick, Inc., General Mercantile, located on Front Street. The store was co-founded by an ancestor of Alexandriamarker businessman and former city commissioner Arnold Jack Rosenthal.


Sign detailing background of Church of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches is located across from the old Courthouse Museum.

Overall look at the riverwalk in Natchitoches

Restored Fort Saint Jean Baptiste museum on Jefferson Street in Natchitoches

Lasoyne's Meat Pie Restaurant is located near the Natchitoches City Hall.

Antoon's Restaurant is located on the Cane River across from the Bank of Montgomery in Natchitoches.

Downtown Natchitoches with historic buildings, stores, and shops, maintains brick streets.

Natchitoches Riverwalk facing up to Front Street

Natchitoches Arts Center on Second Street near City Hall

Construction is underway in Natchitoches on the Louisiana Museum and Sports Hall of Fame.

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,865 people, 6,113 households, and 3,631 families residing in the city. The population density was 828.5 people per square mile (319.9/km²). There were 6,731 housing units at an average density of 312.2/sq mi (120.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 43.72% White, 53.00% African American, 0.68% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 1.30% of the population.

There were 6,113 households out of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.3% were married couples living together, 21.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 27.2% from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 16.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24.5 years. For every 100 females there were 85.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,111, and the median income for a family was $30,396. Males had a median income of $28,601 versus $17,859 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,642. About 26.7% of families and 34.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.0% of those under age 18 and 19.2% of those age 65 or over.


The Natchitoches Meat Pie is one of the official state foods of Louisiana. It is known as a regional delicacy of North Louisiana. (See List of U.S. state foods.)

Natchitoches has long been known for its popular Christmas lighting festival which is held the first Saturday in December. The lights continue to brighten the Cane River until after New Year's Day. In 2009 the festival celebrated its 83rd year.

Several motion pictures have been filmed in Natchitoches, including Steel Magnolias, The Man in the Moon, The Horse Soldiers, NBC's The Year Without a Santa Claus, The American Standard, as well as a Lifetime Television's series Scarlett.


Though Natchitoches has few multi-story buildings, it has retained much of its historic European-style architecture. The city is a mesh of wrought iron, stucco and red brick.

The city still has one of the original brick streets (Front Street) which the historical society protects from alterations. The city of Natchitoches recently completed a restoration project to repair the century plus old brick Front Street. During this process workers removed each brick one by one, numbered them, cleaned them, and then replaced them after utilities, drainage, and foundation were repaired beneath.


The Cane River National Heritage Area is a 116,000-acre area which includes many sites such as Oakland Plantationmarker, Melrose Plantationmarker, Badin-Roque House, Magnolia Plantationmarker, Kate Chopin House, Cherokee Plantation, Cane River Heritage Scenic Byway, Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site, National Historic Landmark District (Old Courthouse Museum, Bishop Martin Museum, Landmarks in Time Exhibit), and the Los Adaes State Historic Site. Because of this richness of culture, the area is one of the destinations on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail newly designated by the state.

Natchitoches, a popular tourism area of the state, is equipped to serve visitors with eleven national chain hotels, and nearly fifty bed and breakfast inns, including the Steel Magnolia House.

Natchitoches attracts over one million visitors annually. The city is known as a retiree-friendly city. In 2006 Natchitoches was awarded the Great American Main Street Award for the effort the community has put into revitalizing and restoring much of the historic district.

The Natchitoches meat pie is a regional dish from northern Louisiana. It is one of the official state foods of Louisiana.

The city's tourism center is the downtown river walk. This includes Front Street, which becomes Jefferson at the Northwestern State University end. Front Street is the jewel of the city. It overlooks the river walk and is bordered by an assortment of shops and boutiques. The city has identified this area as the Historical District. The Historical Society maintains the area through regulations on changes and restorations. Natchitoches has a mini "Walk of Fame" located in the Historical District of the city.

While visiting the area, tourists may notice many unusual structures; these are many of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival lights. The city recently built a small Convention center located on Second Street, which holds many city events.

The Bayou Pierre Alligator Park is a major tourist attraction where tourists may feed the alligators, and dine and shop. The park also teaches school children how to respect nature and the conservation of nature through its many habitats.

Natchitoches is also home to a branch of the Kisatchie National Forest, a project promoted by the naturalist Caroline Dormon to preserve regional natural wonders.

Opened December 2005, the Natchitoches Events Center is in the Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District. Located at 750 Second Street. The facility boasts a meeting facility, a exhibit hall with three meeting rooms, a board room and full-size catering kitchen.



  • Fireworks (1st at 12:00 AM)


  • Mardi Gras Parade
  • Mardi Gras Magic Festival


  • Blooming on the Bricks Festival
  • Art Along the Bricks Festival
  • Ashland Spring Festival - Ashland
  • Sacred Places Tour
  • Brown Bag Concerts
  • Steak & Burger- benefiting local Boys & Girls Club


  • Jazz/R&B Festival
  • Rebel State Spring Festival
  • American Cemetery Tour
  • State Historic Area
  • Brown Bag Concerts


  • Green Market Festival
  • Cane River Festival
  • Brown Bag Concerts


  • Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival
  • Cane River Green Market
  • Natchez Heritage Festival - Natchez


  • Cane River Green Market
  • Celebration on the Cane
  • Natchitoches / NSU Folk Festival
  • Fourth Of July Fireworks


  • Cane River Zydeco Festival
  • Marthaville Good Ole Days
  • Meat Pie Festival & Triathlon
  • Boogie on the Bricks - Follows every NSU home game
  • River Run- Motorcycle poker run sponsored by Indepenent Motorcycle Riders Association benefiting local Boys & Girls Club


  • Annual Natchitoches Pilgrimage
  • Smokin’ on the Red
  • Witch Way to Main Street
  • Boogie on the Bricks
  • Celebrity Chef- featuring native cruisine, local eateries and LA chefs, benefiting local Boys & Girls Club


  • Marathon Rowing Championship
  • Festival of Lights (Premiere of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival lights.) (Fest. Est. 1927)
  • Holiday Open House


  • Fireworks Every Saturday Night
  • Barge Parade
  • Christmas Festival
  • Holiday Tour of Homes
  • “Fete Hiver”
  • Christmas in the Park - Rebel State Historic Area
  • New Year's Eve

Health care and medicine

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center is a 78-bed facility that includes 45 medical/surgical beds and a 112-bed skilled nursing home.Rehabilitation treatment is at the PRISM Center for physical, occupational and speech therapy, sports medicine, industrial medicine, wound care and more.


Colleges and universities

The Northwestern Campus is also home to the Louisiana Scholars' College, the state's designated honors college for the study of the liberal arts and sciences.

NCPTT | National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

Natchitoches Parish School Board operates many public schools. They include:
  • Natchitoches Central High School
  • NSU Middle Laboratory School
  • Weaver Elementary
  • East Natchitoches Elementary
  • George L. Parks Elementary
  • L.P. Vaughn Elementary
  • Natchitoches Magnet School

Private schools

St. Mary's High Schoolmarker is in Natchitoches.


Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts

The Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts was named a Public Elite by Newsweek. * See ArticleThe State of Louisiana administers to the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a boarding school for academically gifted high school students from Louisiana, is located in Natchitoches on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

Notable people

  • Victor Bussie, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO from 1956-1997, was born near Natchitoches in 1919.

  • Kate Chopin, a short story writer and novelist, managed a plantation in Cloutierville south of Natchitoches in the late 19th century for a time after the death of her husband.

  • Jean Doerge, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Webster Parish, was born south of Natchitoches in 1937.

  • George Doherty was a former professional football player who was the head coach of the Northwestern State University Demons from 1972-1974. The athletic offices are named in his honor.

  • Sylvan Friedman, a farmer and rancher was a member of the Natchitoches Parish Police Jury from 1932-1944, the state House of Representatives from 1944-1952, and the Louisiana State Senate from 1952-1972. NSU named its student union building in his honor.

  • Robert Harling, a playwright and Hollywoodmarker screenwriter (born 1951), is a Natchitoches native. His Steel Magnolias is based on the life and death of his sister. Harling has also written First Wives Club, Evening Star, and Laws of Attraction.

  • Rickey L. Nowlin and Gerald Long are the first Republicans to represent Natchitoches Parish in the Louisiana House and Louisiana Senate since Reconstruction. They assumed their legislative seats on January 14, 2008. In 2007, Nowlin defeated Joe Sampite, a Democrat who served as mayor of Natchitoches from 1980-2000, for the right to succeed Representative Taylor Townsend, who failed in a Senate race against Gerald Long.

  • W. Ray Scott (1923-2008) served as mayor of Natchitoches from 1960-1976, during which time he worked to expand and procure university status for Northwestern State University. He also expanded the city water supply from Sibley Lake.

  • Thomas Taylor Townsend (born 1963). an attorney, served as the Natchitoches Parish state representative from 2000-2008.

  • Arthur C. Watson (1909-1984) was a Natchitoches attorney who served in the state House of Representatives from 1940-1944 and later as chairman of the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee.

  • Eugene P. Watson (1911-1964), brother of Arthur Watson, was the NSU librarian for whom the university library is named.

Joe Dumars

Rex Reed

Joanna Cassidy

Noted events

The Steel Magnolias Bed and Breakfast on Jefferson Street is among some fifty such lodgings in Natchitoches.

The Violet Hill Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches

Natchitoches received numerous New Orleansmarker evacuees due to Hurricane Katrina. Many college students from New Orleansmarker were transferred to Northwestern State Universitymarker to continue their education.

Steel Magnolias was filmed here, starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, and Olympia Dukakis, and The Horse Soldiers, starring William Holden and John Wayne.

In 1973, singer-songwriter Jim Croce was killed when his plane crashed as he was leaving the city.

Natchitoches, LA Gas Pipeline Explosion, Mar 1965 | GenDisasters


3. Visitor's Guide of Natchitoches, Louisiana

External links

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