Nearly two centuries ago, American officials were worried about Louisiana’s coastline. But their concern wasn’t erosion of the marshes or walls of water driven by a storm devastating the region. It was foreign navies.
Fresh off of stinging naval defeats to the British in the War of 1812, President James Monroe and the Congress of the fledgling United States settled on coastal defense as a priority.
To address that concern, they commissioned a series of forts to be built along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These forts, known as the Third System of coastal defenses, included Fort Monroe in Virginia, Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay and Fort Pike in Louisiana, as well as more than three dozen others.
Today, those forts are historical relics, reminders of the way wars were fought before aircraft, smart bombs and ballistic missiles.
|“Before Hurricane Katrina, the fort's brick-and-mortar structure was decaying. The 2005 storm surge exacerbated the problems. It temporarily completely submerged the entire fort, and destroyed adjacent state park buildings.”|
|“The closure means that people will no longer be able to stand atop Fort Pike’s walls, gazing toward the Gulf of Mexico or Lake Pontchartrain, or wander through the low galleries that line the outer wall or the barracks in the center of the fort.”|