Spanish Fort at Bayou St. John

Stop 4 of 7 on the New Orleans Lakefront tour

A small fort was erected in 1701 before the founding of the city of New Orleans by the French where Bayou St. John empties into Lake Pontchartrain. The settlers sought to protect the important trade route along Bayou St. John.

It was first used in 1793 under the authority of Governor Carondelet during the Battle of New Orleans where Major Jean Baptiste Plaunche's battalion carried out observations from the fort at the direction of General Andrew Jackson.

The fort stayed active until after the Louisiana Purchase where an act of Congress allowed the sale of all obsolete military sites. In 1823, the government sold the Spanish Fort to Harvey Elkins as surplus. Elkins transformed the fort into the Pontchartrain Hotel.

In 1903, the popularity of Pontchartrain Hotel at Spanish Fort declined as a result of the suspension of steam railroad services. Subsequently, the fort's buildings were burned by an unknown source. In 1909, the resort was acquired by the New Orleans Railway and Light Company who revived it in 1911 with the introduction of electric car lines. These lines were extended to Spanish Fort until October 16, 1932.

Due to the popularity of the competing West End pier, attendance began to dwindle, leaving the Spanish Fort's future uncertain.

In 1933, the resort finally closed to facilitate the implementation of the Orleans Parish Levee Board's plans for the development of the lakefront from West End to the Industrial Canal. During the reclamation project of the Lakefront in the 1930s, the amusement park at Spanish Fort was disassembled and subsequently moved to the new Pontchartrain Beach located several miles further down the lakefront.

The area surrounding the Spanish fort was sold for residential use, leaving only a half an acre of remains left for preservation.

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