From pirate port to nature preserve © Karine Aigner/Tandem Stills + Motion
Barataria Preserve is one of six distinct locations that make up Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana. The wetlands and bay at Barataria are tied closely to the history of this portion of the Mississippi River Delta. In the late 1700s, Barataria Bay was where the well-dressed smuggler and occasional pirate Jean Lafitte and his brother Pierre built a port. Far from the nearest US naval base and the prying eyes of customs officials, Barataria offered the brothers a safe place to smuggle in goods they"d stolen from ships in the Caribbean, or sometimes bought on the black market. They then sold the merchandise, mainly to merchants in New Orleans. Jean Lafitte and his comrades also helped to defend New Orleans against the British in the final battle of the War of 1812. These days, he’s chiefly remembered for his heroism in the Battle of New Orleans and for the jobs and goods he provided in the region--the erstwhile pirate is a folk hero of a sort, and famous enough that a national historical park was named for him.