Louisiana State Park History

Louisiana's State Parks System began in 1934 with the passage of legislation creating the State Parks Commission of Louisiana, a state governmental agency charged with the "establishment, protection, and management of state parks and recreational centers."

The State Parks Commission assumed the operation of three existing sites, which had been acquired by other commissions. These three sites -- Camp Moore (now operated by the Camp Moore Historical Association), Fort Pike/Fort McComb State Historic Site and Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site -- comprised a total of 298 acres. Picnickers during the 1930s and 40s enjoying the shade at Longfellow-Evangeline State Commemorative Area.Over the next few years, four additional recreational sites were purchased or transferred to the State Parks Commission, bringing the total state park land holdings to more than 10-thousand acres. As with many State Parks systems in the south and across the country, the Louisiana State Parks Commission benefited from the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps, under the supervision of the National Park Service, provided the much-needed manpower and even some materials for the development of many sites that would eventually join the Louisiana State Parks system.

World War II Slows Expansion
While no new park development occurred during World War II, the war did bring some new temporary residents to one state park. Two to three hundred German prisoners of war were housed at Longfellow-Evangeline State Park, at a camp built by the Department of Agriculture. The POWs were not used on park projects, but instead, provided agricultural labor for nearby farmers.

In 1944, 1946 and 1947, the commission purchased three new parcels of park lands. These included a historic plantation house -- Oakley House at Audubon SHS and two recreational sites -- Sam Houston Jones SP and Lake Bistineau SP, which added 1,918 acres to the system.

Louisiana Parks Commission logoThe Louisiana State Parks and Recreation Commission
In 1952, legislation broadened the role of the State Parks Commission to include the development of outdoor recreation programs and resources in Louisiana. The newly-created Louisiana State Parks and Recreation Commission now operated with the following goals:

  • to study the recreational needs of the state;
  • to assist local governmental subdivisions in providing recreation facilities;
  • to aid in recruiting, training and placing recreation works, and to promote recreation institutes and conferences;
  • to establish and promote recreational standards; and
  • to cooperate with state and federal agencies, private organizations and commercial recreation interests in the promotion of recreational opportunities.

Four historic sites and one recreational park -- Marksville SHS, Mansfield SHS, E.D. White State Commemorative Area (now operated by the Office of State Museums), Fort Jesup SHS and Lake Bruin SP -- were added to the State Parks System during the 1950s. The addition of these sites brought the total of parks operated by the Commission to 16, with a total land holding of a little more than 12,000 acres. But in addition to increasing recreational opportunities around the state, social and cultural changes of the 1950s brought expansions in services and facilties at many of the parks.