Around Lake Pontchartrain


Pre History
1699 Exploration
1701 Fort St. John
1703 Trappers on the Bayou
1718 New Orleans is Founded
1732 Native Americans
1735 Native Americans
1759 Map of the Portage
1763 Spanish Rule
1768 Map of the Water Route
1770 Spanish Fort Postcards
1778 Hurricanes
1779 Spanish Rebuild the Fort
1780 Hurricane
1784 Custom House
1795 Carondelet Canal
1803 Madisonville
1808 U.S. Restores the Fort
1811 Bayou St. John Light
1803 Louisiana Purchase
1814 Madisonville
1815 Steamboat Travel Begins
1816 Bayou St. John a Port
1820's Concert Hall & Garden at Spanish Fort
1823 Spanish Fort on the Bayou
1828 Map
1837 Hurricane Destroys the Bayou St. John
1838 New Canal Light
1830 Pontchartrain Railroad
1868 Submarine Find
1868 receipts for the Jewess and Frances
1831 New Basin Canal
1832 Port Ponchartrain/Milneburg Light
1838 Port Ponchartrain Surveyer
1838 New Canal/West End Light
1839 Milneburg
1839 Milneburg
1839 Pontchartrain Railroad
1840 By 1840, New Orleans had become by far the wealthiest and was ranked as the third most populous
1849 Southern Yach Club
1849 Southern Yacht Club
1850 Louisville & Nashville Railroad
1850 West End, Lakeport, Bucktown
1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin
1858 Harper's Magazine
1859 Bruning's
1859 Corpheous
1860's Hurricanes
1861 Most citizens have access to the Lake
1861Bayou St. John's Port, Lake Port (West End), and Port Pontchartrain (Milneburg Port)
1863 Madisonville
1863 Woodcut Civil War engraving
1863 Civil War Military Map
1865 - Civil War Order
1866 - The Little Blue Train
1868 Map
1870 Milneburg Port declines but Jazz flourishes
1870 The Smoky Mary begins
1870 West End
1870 The Lake House is destroyed in a fire
1871 Land is reclaimed at West End
1873 - Plan plan for the redevelopment of the south shore
1873 Spanish Fort
1874 Mark Twain writes about Spanish Fort in Life on the Mississippi
1874 Mark Twain writes about West End in Life on the Mississippi
1875 Rowles Stereograph Photograph titled 'Protection levee Lake Pontchartrain'
1879 Illustration from The Nathanial Bishop book
1880 Smokey Mary
1880 - Alligators at Spanish Fort
1880 - Casino at Spanish Fort
1880 - Opera House at West End
1880 Fountain West End
1880 Hotel West End
1880 West End Pavillion
1880s - Water Polo at West End
1880s Bird's Eye View- New Basin Canal at West End
1880s Bridge over New Basin Canal at West End
1880s Pavilion at West End
1880s Spanish Fort at Bayou St. John
1883 Point-aux-Herbes
1884 - Concert Hall at Spanish Fort
1888 (Papa) Jack Laine forms his first brass band
1890 - 1920 Buddy Bolden's Band plays
1890 Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton is born
1890's West End Garden Amusement Park
1890s - Spanish Fort Train
1890s Ferris Wheel at West End
1890s view of Bayou St. John
1890's Bucktown
Lake Pontchartrain at West End
1891 Painting-the Lake and Milneburg
1892 Map
1893 Woman Lighthouse keeper at Milneburg shelters storm victims
1894 - La Belle Zoraide by Kate Chopin
1895 Lumber Schooner, New Basin Canal
1896 - The first movie in New Orleans was shown at the Lake
1897 - A Night in Acadie by Kate Chopin
1897 - Athénaïse by Kate Chopin
1899 - The Goodness of St. Rocque by Alice Dunbar
1895 Cape Charles Car and Passenger Ferry
1900's Milneburg Walk
1910 Bayou St. John Sailor Girl
1919 Spanish Fort Ad
1929 Port Pontchartrain/Milneburg Light decommissioned
1940's Dig
1960s Kiddieland
August 2005
1. Bayou St. John
2. Milneburg/Pontchartain Beach
Military Installments
Shushan Airport
3. Hayne Blvd. and Beyond
Lincoln Beach
Chef Pass/Fort McComb
Fort Pike & The Rigolets
"Pointe Aux Herbes"
4. Northshore -- Fontainbleau, etc.
5. Western Shores -- Pass Manchac
The German Coast
6. Engineering Marvels -- Spillway
7. Bucktown
8. west end
General Area


State Historical Marker:
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.

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.”

Fort Pike and ligth houses






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."

MARCH 7, 1863. Madisonville "enemies" arrive




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
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE


The lighting apparatus was supplied by Winslow Lewis, and Benjamin Thurston served as the light’s first keeper.

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 Mobile Bay.

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.

In the 1950s, after the light was automated in 1952, the keeper’s dwelling was moved upstream to the town of Madisonville. Today, the house sits just behind the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum


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.

The Madisonville Lighthouse was built in 1838 and is on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The land route to the lighthouse was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and it has since been accessible only by boat.

The town also hosts the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.

Madisonville hosts a wooden boat festival on the last weekend of each September.


1885 --
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 community.

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 eaach trip.

carried passengers and autos
1920's and mid 30's.

There were two more steamers to Madisonville and Mandeville (who owned them?)


Late 1880's
German 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 site..

1770 Spanish Fort is Established


1863  Woodcut Civil War engraving

1850s West End & Lakeport development begins

The Lake