From the parking lot of Fort Pike, look north-northwest underneath the bridge towards the red-roofed bait store and marina (see picture). Past this building, somewhere near the shoreline, Fort Petite Coquilles once stood. This site was formerly accessible by Hospital Road (across from the firehouse), but the drive has since become private property. Fort Petite Coquilles (little shells) was designed by architect Barthelemy Lafon before the war of 1812. The site, selected by Lafon, was purportedly chosen on the advice of pirate Jean Lafitte. Lafon was an extraordinary surveyor who made many detailed maps of the New Orleans area. The fort itself was a Second System construction, a small wooden structure that was less durable than its Third System replacement Fort Pike. Second System forts were less stable because of the construction materials used: usually earth, wood and masonry. General James Wilkinson, commander of the New Orleans district, believed that building a fort at this location was "a major factor in preventing the British from taking New Orleans." However, Fort Petite Coquilles did not see extensive battle during the War of 1812. It was, in fact, criticized by General Andrew Jackson as being "of little service in protection of the pass" after American gunboats in Lake Borgne were captured on December 14, 1814. This site is no longer standing, but remains an integral part of New Orleans history. Some locals say that when the water is clear following a storm, the remains of Fort Petite Coquilles can be seen near the shore. However, no photographs have surfaced, nor has anyone admitted to actually seeing this for themselves.
View the next stop, West Rigolets Lighthouse, from the same location.