Skip to main content

Land’s End

March 2023
1min read

Spreading south from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico, the Barataria region is, as the author describes it, a “bewildering tatter” of cypress swamps, marshes, saw-grass meadows, palmetto groves, bayous, creeks, bays, and islands, all of it cut through by the Mississippi River meandering down the last stretch of its journey from land to sea. And it boils with wildlife peculiar to southern coastal wetlands: muskrats, otters, alligators, and scores of varieties of fish; swamp rabbits, fox squirrels, feral hogs, raccoons, and swamp deer; bald eagles circle in search of prey, ducks and geese winter here, and white clouds of egrets burst into the air like feathers from a hundred ruptured pillows.

Almost twenty years ago, sentiment arose to create through federal legislation some kind of reserve in the area for wetlands preservation, but it was not until 1978 that Congress enacted Public Law 95-625 establishing Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve “in order to preserve for the education, inspiration, and benefit of present and future generations significant examples of natural and historical resources of the Mississippi Delta region.…” It is a multiunit park that includes not only such natural preserves as Big Oak Island but also cultural and historic sites in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Barataria’s share in all this? It is hoped that ultimately it will take in as much as twenty thousand acres of marshland, together with such historic sites as Fort Livingston on Grand Terre, but for now it is represented by the green area on the map at left—some eighty-six hundred acres lying just north of the little town of Barataria. There is only the hope of the fort site for Grand Terre, and nothing at all for Grand Isle, that long tongue of an island where Lafcadio Hearn found existence “so facile, happy, primitively simple, that trifles give joy unspeakable;—in that bright air whose purity defies the test of even the terrible solar microscope, neither misery nor malady may live.”

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "August/September 1980"

Authored by: Jourdan Houston

When The Great Earthquake struck New England, learned men blamed everything from God’s wrath to an overabundance of lightning rods in Boston. Two hundred and twenty-five years later, geologists are at last discovering the true causes.

Authored by: Joseph Kastner

It’s our most important, profitable, and adaptable crop—the true American staple. But where did it come from?

Authored by: Anthony Brandt

Americans first learned to read to save their souls, then to govern themselves. Now the need is not so clear.

Authored by: Oliver Jensen

When old James E. Taylor exercised his powers of near-total recall to set down memories of the Shenandoah campaign, he left us a unique record of a very new, very hazardous profession

Authored by: Frederick Turner

With astonishing tenacity, the people of the rich river-mouth region of the Mississippi have remained what and where they are through two and a half centuries

Authored by: Red Smith

It was fifty years ago that Bobby Jones won his Grand Slam, making him the only man who ever has—or probably ever will—conquer the “Impregnable Quadrilateral” of golf

Authored by: Jane Colihan

“They tell me I have a beautiful boat,” said the challenger, Sir Thomas Lipton. “What I want is a boat to lift the Cup.”

Authored by: Peter Andrews

The restaurant that changed the way we dine—

Featured Articles

Famous writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts turned Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into our country’s first conservation project.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.

Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.