Toledo Bend: El Camino Real Tour
Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004, El Camino Real de los Tejas (Hwy 6 in Louisiana and Hwy 21 in Texas) has existed for more than 300 years.
El Camino Real has its easternmost beginning in Natchitoches, Louisiana and runs from piney woods through rolling hills to the arid lands of Old Mexico.
The Spaniards and the French that marked the trail were followed by such men as Moses Austin and his son Stephen Fuller Austin (The Father of Texas), Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and early missionaries of multiple faiths.
An abundance of historic cities await the modern day traveler on the Crossroads stretch of El Camino Real.Traveling along El Camino through Sabine Parish will take you to the breathtaking 186,000 acre Toledo Bend Reservoir, the largest man-made reservoir in the Southern United States.
The Reservoir boasts some of the best fishing, hunting, canoeing and birding in the country. Sabine Parish offers premier fishing, two championship golf courses, numerous lake side resorts and Hodges Gardens State Park.
Following the Louisiana Purchase, this land became neutral territory, or "No Man's Land." The area had no law enforcement. It became home to many well-known outlaws.
Communities in the area offer activities including the Zwolle Tamale Festival, Fisher Sawmill Days, Sabine FreeState Festival (in Florien), Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb's annual Pow Wow, Loggers & Forestry Festival, and the re-enactment of the Civil War Battle in Pleasant Hill.
El Camino Real Historic Toledo Bend
Ft Jesup is located off LA 6, six miles east of Many. The site was selected by Zachary Taylor in 1822. It existed for 26 years as one of the strongest garrisons in Louisiana. The fort was once a large complex of 82 structures.
This site features the original kitchen/mess building and a reconstructed officers' quarters that houses visitor information, a gift shop and interpretive exhibits. Facilities also include a museum and picnic area.
Ft St Jean Baptiste is located at 155 Rue Jefferson on the banks of the Cane River in Natchitoches.
The original Fort was built in 1716 to prevent Spanish forces in the province of Texas from advancing across the border of French Louisiana.
Tours available daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Reenactors of the time make the trip an educational and enjoyable one.
Los Adaes is located on LA 6, east of Robeline in Natchitoches Parish. Los Adaes dates back to the early 1700s when a Franciscan missionary from New Spain urged the French governor of Louisiana to establish a post near east Texas.
In 1729, Spain designated Los Adaes the capital of the province of Texas, making it the official residence of the governor.
Tours on site daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Site includes a neat museum.
St John the Baptist Catholic Church The first resident priest selected the highest spot in Many at the intersection of the main roadways for the building site of St John the Baptist Catholic Church in 1871.
The original Church burned in 1922, was rebuilt and later remodeled, retaining the original Spanish architecture.
Gaines-Oliphint House Located in the Pendleton Harbor Subdivision on Hwy. 21 (Highway 6 on the Louisiana side), near the Pendleton Bridge. The Gaines-Oliphint House has been acknowledged by the Texas Historical Commission as the oldest standing log structure in the state. The building is a double pen planked log story and a half building with a dog trot. The house is owned by the Sabine District Chapter 33 of the Sons of the Republic of Texas.
Built around 1815 by slave labor, research shows that the Gaines-Oliphint House stands on ground granted to James T. Gaines in 1830, one of the oldest Anglo grants in the state of Texas.
The Gaines-Oliphint house provided lodging for Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and Stephen F. Austin, among others. According to legend, it is the site where pirate Jean LaFitte held his auctions to sell slaves and goods he had taken from captive ships.
Mission Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de los Ais: Sixth in a string of Spanish missions, 1717; million-dollar visitor center with interpretation exhibits, walking trail along Aish Bayou and landscaped RV park across the street in the trees.
In San Augustine County, 30 miles from Toledo Bend Lake. Open for tours 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.