While inside the fort, climb to the top of the parapet in the far right corner (when viewed from the entryway). Look in a south-easterly direction across the lake towards a strip of land with some trees (see photo 1) and you will see marsh where the town used to sit.
The town of Lake Catherine was a rural marsh community accessible only by water or railroad. The town was settled sometime in the 1800's around a train depot, and the residents lived off of what they could either hunt or catch. Fur trapping and fishing sustained most of the residents. The end of passenger railroad service in the mid-1900's forced many of the residents to relocate along the Chef Menteur Highway where they could have easier access to transportation.
Reminiscent of the maroon communities that settled here in the early days of New Orleans, these settlers supplied each other with fish and game or whatever else they could obtain from their environment.Through the early 1900's, the town's lodges were segregated due to Jim Crow laws; African-Americans had to walk a half-mile down the tracks to the colored-only lodge. However, these two communities often traded goods back and forth, and during the holidays everyone attended the parties no matter who was giving it. These small villages are now all but abandoned or washed away by storms and time.
For additional information on the town of Lake Catherine or to download an oral history interview transcription, visit the Town of Lake Catherine exhibit in NOLAcitymuseum: http://nolacitymuseum.org/exhibits/show/lake-catherine.