Collections from Louisiana National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Louisiana. We invite you to explore museum collections from Cane River Creole National Historical Park, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

Hand-forged by the enslaved blacksmith Solomon Williams, the robust iron bits and shafts were used to drill water wells at Bermuda/Oakland Plantation in 1823. According to oral tradition, construction of the well-drilling equipment was commissioned by Planter Jean-Pierre Emmanuel Prud'homme and designed by a French engineer. Operation of the well-drilling equipment purportedly required a human labor force at least 15 enslaved workers. The Bermuda/Oakland Plantation well-drilling equipment is speculated to be the earliest American example of a one-of­ a-kind set of French design and slave manufacture.“With the above tools rotated by hand, at least three and possibly four 400-ft holes were bored on the Prud'homme Oakland Plantation in 1823. No water was encountered in sufficient quantity to serve useful purposes. Consequently, the holes were abandoned. Small quantities of a combustible gas called ’damp’ or ’fire damp,’ probably ’marsh gas’ or methane, were encountered ... A heavy timber tripod and a windlass are said to have been used to handle the square, wrought iron drill rods, which weighed about 3,000 lbs. at the maximum well depth of 400 feet. The rods were 15 ft. long thus requiring a tower of at least 20 ft. high.”Brantly, J.E. History of Oil Well Drilling. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, 1971.This double-helix shaped well-drilling bit was likely a worm or fishing tool, attached to a drilling stem and designed to remove the drill stem, extraneous debris, or to collect lost tools from within the subterranean shaft. Oakland Plantation, a National Bicentennial Farm and National Historic Landmark, is a unit of Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana.

Cane River Creole National Historical Park, CARI 27071

This Special Resource Study is part of the archival collection at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park (JAZZ). This collection contains management records from April 1992 to July 2007. These records were generated during the establishment and early days of JAZZ and include documentation of the park working with the city and with the friends of WWOZ. The park and the city of New Orleans worked together on leases for park offices and a visitor center in Armstrong Park. The mayors during this period included Sidney Barthelemy, Marc Morial, and Ray Nagin. JAZZ also worked with regional office staff, the Denver Service Center, and contractors on plans and studies. This archival collection consists of leases, ordinances, agreements, management plans, special resource studies, receipts for filing, and correspondence.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, JAZZ 95

This child’s costume was worn for “Courir de Mardi Gras.” The tradition of the Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras was brought with Cajuns from rural France to Canada to Louisiana. The participants go from house to house begging for ingredients for a communal gumbo. Many of the original costumes are derivatives of the costumes worn in early rural France for the same celebration. The costumes not only conceal the identities of the participants, but also allow them to parody authority figures and society. Originally the costumes were made from old work clothes decorated with cloth remnants and pieces of feed sack material. This led to a patchwork style that has become associated with the costuming of the event. Whether it’s Courir de Mardi Gras or New Orleans Mardi Gras, the celebration is about traditions and community. In all of the six sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the park participates with the community to preserve this rich cultural heritage.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, JELAF 2164

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Cane River Creole National Historical Park, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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