In a sense, the North Central (or "Crossroads") Region of Louisiana is its birthplace. Four years before New Orleans was founded, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis founded Natchitoches. It is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase Territories. Today, a replica of the fort once commanded by de St. Denis stands at Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site. The beautiful historic town of Natchitoches boasts a 33-block National Historic Landmark district where shopping and B & Bs abound.
Other attractions of the region: The Alexandria Museum of Art; the restored home (now a museum and cultural center) of Harlem Renaissance writer Arna Bontemps; the Southern Forestry Heritage Museum; Frogmore Plantation in the eastern corridor; ancient Indian mounds at Marksville State Historic Site; Toledo Bend Reservoir, west of Alexandria, with 300 pounds of fish per acre; Fort Jesup State Historic Site depicting the lifestyle of the pioneer settlers; the Lois Loftin Doll Museum and the War Memorial Civic Center in DeRidder; the grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier in Marthaville; and Vernon Parish Courthouse in Leesville (named for Robert E. Lee).