Originally called Cokie (from Coquille) because of the abundance
of shells in the area. Renamed for President James Madison, c. 1811. Site of Navy Yard in early 1800's. According to legend
Gen. Andrew Jackson, enroute to New Orleans in Nov. 1814 stopped here at the home of Gen. David B. Morgan.
Tangipahoa Indian village
The Natchez Trace ends here at the Lake.
Andrew Jackson crossed Lake Pontchartrain from Madisonville on his way to the Battle of New Orleans.
Over one hundred years of ship and boat building
summer retreat for New Orleanians since
the early 1800's.
It was here the barge and keelboat men, who had floated down the Mississippi with their products
and then sailed across Lake Pontchartrain, began their walk to the Natchez Trace and back home to Tennessee and Kentucky.
By the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Chiconcte (Madisonville) and Barrio of Buck Falia (Covington) had begun
to develop as trade and transportation centers. The Port of Bayou St. John in New Orleans began trade excursions across Pontchartrain
to the settlements, and vessels began to be built on the Northshore. So began an industry in Madisonville which continues
today. Source: http://www.crt.state.la.us/folklife/book_florida_northshore.html
1814 -- By 1814, Madisonville had two shipyards, including a U.S. Navy facility. It never
finished the Tchifonta, a 22-gun ship, despite desperate pleas from Jackson and Gov. William Claiborne, who wanted to use
it to defend New Orleans from the British.
Because the Tchefuncte and Lake Pontchartrain have shallow drafts and were not deep enough to handle
the Navy vessels, “they were outfitted with life preservers,” says Carambat. “They actually strapped on
so-called lifter barges to the hulls of the vessels and floated them out to the Gulf.”
Wood-cut Harper's Weekly (March, 1863) titled "DEPARTURE OF REGISTERED ENEMIES OF THE UNITED STATES FROM PORT HICKOK,
TO MADISONVILLE, LA".
The Illustrated London News, April 11, 1863. Caption reads "The War in America: Arrival of a Federal Steamer
with Flag of Truce at Madisonville, Lake Portchartrain.--See Next Page."
On the following page:
"Our Engraving represents one of the many curious and interesting episodes of the Civil
War in America--the arrival of a steamer with a flag of truce in Dixie's Land. Happily, it is of a lighter and less tragic
character than the majority of the illustrations which have appeared in our columns. The scene of the incident which we have
illustrated is the village of Madisonville, lying upon a little river bearing the Indian name of Chefunctee, on the northern
shore of Portchartrain. This coast remains in the undisputed possession of the Confederates, while the Federals occupy the
southern side. The steam-boat, one of the high-pressure kind so commonly in use on the Mississippi, and connected in our minds
with thoughts of boiler explosions and snag impalements, has just landed a crowd of women and children, "registered enemies"
of the United States, and who have been conveyed at their own request to the rebels--their husbands, friends, and relatives."
Location: NORTH SIDE LAKE PONCHARTRAIN Station Established: 1838 Year
Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1868 Operational? YES Automated? YES 1952 Deactivated: n/a Foundation
Materials: STONE Construction Materials: BRICK Tower Shape: CONICAL Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/VERTICAL BLACK
STRIPE Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE Original Lens: FIFTH ORDER, FRESNEL
The lighting apparatus was supplied by Winslow Lewis, and Benjamin Thurston served as the light’s
To help guide vessels across Lake Pontchartrain to the river’s entrance,
the first Tchefuncter River Lighthouse was constructed near the river’s mouth in 1838. The lighting apparatus was supplied by Winslow Lewis, and Benjamin
Thurston served as the light’s first keeper.
The tower was badly damaged during the Civil War, and was subsequently
dismantled. A new tower was constructed on the original foundation using some of the brick from its predecessor. The second tower rose ten feet taller than the first, and a bell tower and square keeper’s tower were built on the point next to the
lighthouse. The lantern room from the destroyed Cat Island Lighthouse was used to cap the new lighthouse. After a year of
construction, the light from a fifth-order Fresnel lens was exhibited in 1868 by keeper William A. Stewart, who served aboard
the USS Richmond, which was part of Farragut’s fleet that that bravely steamed past Fort Morgan and won the Battle of
A storm in 1888 swept away the station’s kitchen, outhouses, woodshed, and picket fence. At some
point, a single vertical black stripe was painted on the tower. This stripe likely functioned as a range indicator of sorts,
to help captains line up their approach to the river.
LOUISIANA Location: NORTH SIDE LAKE PONCHARTRAIN Nearest City: MADISONVILLE County: ST. TAMMANY U.S.C.G.
District: 8 Year Station Established: 1838
It was an important port providing
bricks and other products of the towns along the Tchefuncte to New Orleans in the decades before the American Civil War. After the Union capture of New Orleans, this area remained under nominal Confederate control, and the cut off of trade with New Orleans across "enemy lines" was devastating to the local economy, which
did not recover for decades after the peace.
Across the river from Madisonville is Houltonville ...
From 1885 through 1906, the community slightly upriver and across from Madisonville was known as Jayville,
named for the sawmill built by entrepreneur W.T. Jay. Virgin cypress and yellow pine were milled, and a booming shipping business
that ferried the goods across Lake Pontchartrain supplied lumber to the bustling market in New Orleans. The growing company
built a logging railroad from Madisonville to the town of Uneedus in Tangipahoa Parish. The developing communities along the
gulf coast were among the other markets for the valuable lumber goods. Massive steam boilers ran the sawmill, shingle mill,
and planing mill. Pilings for utility poles were a very lucrative part of the business. Soon new sash, door and blind manufacturing
operations were added to the thriving enterprise.
Jay built his home near the mill. The splendid mansion was later called the Fairview House and is today’s
Otis House at Fairview Riverside State Park. Raw timber was brought right in front of the elegant home and processed to finished
lumber, with drying docks all along the river. More than 300 workers were employed, settling with their families in the surrounding
In 1906, Charles and William Houlton of Duluth, Minn. bought the lumber company and mansion from Jay
In 1936, Frank Griffith Otis, the world’s largest mahogany manufacturer, bought the Houlton mansion
and property, consisting of one hundred acres, for $4,550. Otis renovated the home and lived there until 1962, when he bequeathed
the Otis House, its lavish furnishings and the surrounding acreage to the State of Louisiana with the condition that it be
used as a park. It became Fairview Riverside State Park.
Susquehanna, operated by the Lake Transit Co., travelled from West End on
the south shore to to Madisonville on Sundays and to Mandeville on Wednesdays and Saturdays-- also stopping on both towns
carried passengers and autos
1920's and mid 30's.
two more steamers to Madisonville and Mandeville (who owned them?)
immigrant Fritz Jahncke sold cement in the late 1800s in New Orleans. He needed sand, so he made a deal to dredge the Tchefuncte
River. He had a fleet of barges and tugs to haul the sand and shells to New Orleans, so he built his first shipyard on the
river where he could repair them.
1910s -- Jahncke Shipyard employed some 2,000 workers during World War I
The Tchefuncta River with Lake Pontchartrain in the background.
22,000 square foot Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center is located at the ole Jahncke Shipyard