Fort Balise

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Fort Balise (1722-1749, 1766-1792, 1794-1815) - A French Colonial Fort (or series of forts) first established in 1722 at the East Pass of the mouth of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Now known as the South East Pass. The fortification was abandoned by the British at the end of the War of 1812 in 1815.


First built by the French in 1722 at the mouth of the Mississippi River to guide ships to the main channel leading north to New Orleans. At the mouth of the Mississippi the river trifurcates into three major passes to the Gulf and many, many minor passes. This area is known as the "Head of Passes." The confusing set of possible entrances is constantly changing due to enormous silt deposits and sudden changes brought about by Gulf Hurricanes. Even today pilots are required to guide large ships upriver to New Orleans.

The fort's name comes from the French balise, meaning "beacon." In 1722, the French established a water battery, a military post, storehouses, a powder magazine, and a chapel, on a bank formed by pilings. The post garrison consisted of some 50 military men, river pilots, and a few sailors. The original fort occupied a little flat island called Toulouse about a half-mile in circumference. The magazine and part of the fortifications were later swept into the river.

In 1768 a new balise or balizewas established by the Spanish Don Ulloa and chiefly used as a pilot station. This site evolved into the village of Balize in Plaquemines Parish, long abandoned and destroyed.

The Post was taken over by Americans forces in 1803 and was known as the Post at Balize. The post was rebuilt in 1813 as a five-gun battery, but later abandoned and then destroyed by the British in 1813. Re-occupied by the British in December 1814 and held until their final defeat in the War of 1812 in January 1815.

Current Status

The site was completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1865 and no trace exists.

Location: Pilot Town, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

Maps & Images

Lat: 29.1225 Long: -89.1072

GPS Locations:

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