Grand Ecore Visitors Center
Discovering the Red River
DeSoto found it while exploring the Mississippi for riches. Bienville followed its route to explore north Louisiana. St. Denis spent years searching its shores for gold and silver. Early settlers and farmers used it to ship cotton and other goods to New Orleans. The Confederate Army used it to move food and troops south. The Union Army used it to move food and troops north. Steamboat lines from St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati roamed its waters.
Today, the gifts of the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway continue to support the River community. Under the guidance of the Red River Waterway Commission, the River provides both recreational and commercial opportunities to Louisiana residents. The Red River is a vital source for economic development essential to the future of our state.
From a 80 foot high bluff, the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Grand Ecore Visitor Center offers extraordinary views of Red River. The grounds are host to wildlife, cultural and historical displays of the area and waterway exploration and navigation information. A walking trail is available for visitors to get a first-hand glance at Civil War entrenchments.
Visitors will learn about the role of the Corps of Engineers in the development, preservation and enhancement of water resources in the region. Nine interior exhibits cover the history, present and future of the waterway. We are proud of our Waterway, our facilities, and of the thousands of people who enjoy the benefits of living near the Red River.
Red River Waterway
As the region’s ultimate liquid asset, the Red River Waterway delivers a wealth of bottom-line advantages to Northwest and Central Louisiana. With strategic location in the heart of the South, linked to the Mississippi River and Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, the historic Red River is a powerful resource for dependable industrial transportation, recreation, and tourism.
Natchitoches hosts one of the three public ports currently existing on the Red River. The Natchitoches port is located 8 miles south of Natchitoches. The port boasts a two-lane concrete boat ramp, bank-fishing areas, a boat dock, and picnic facilities with grills.
The work of the Red River Waterway Commission represents the seven-parish Red River Waterway District that encompasses Caddo, Bossier, Red River, Natchitoches, Grant, Rapides, and Avoyelles parishes. Commissioners are appointed from each of those parishes, plus three at-large commissioners also serve.
The commission currently owns and operates approximately 30,000 acres of land.