New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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March 2, 1699 Sieur De Iberville Finds the Mouth of the Mississippi

In 1698, Count Pontchartrain, minister of the French Navy, knowing of the urgency of establishing a colony in Louisiana to protect its interests, called on Sieur De Iberville for the difficult task of finding the mouth of the river to confirm it was the same river La Salle was on. On June 4, 1698, he began his journey. On February 27, 1699, he anchored a ship off the coast of present-day Mississippi and began the search in small boats for the mouth of the river, which he found on March 2, 1699.

Needing proof that he was on the Mississippi River, as he traveled upriver, he met with many of the Indian tribes. When meeting with the Bayou Goulas, the chief wore a coat of blue poitou serge fashioned in the Canadian style, and a red cravat. The Indians told him that French explorer Tonty left a message as to where a letter could be found wedged into a rear cleft of a tree. When finding that piece of information, he had the necessary proof that he was on the Mississippi River. On July 2, 1699, he arrived back in France to give his report.

On Feb. 1, 1700, Iberville was given orders to head back to Louisiana and to establish the first colony in the present state of Louisiana. He selected a spot on the Mississippi River that seemed to remain high and dry. On Feb. 1, 1700, construction began on the small fort with four cannons 18 leagues from the sea, near the present settlement of Phoenix, 30 miles below New Orleans.

When completed that same year, Iberville placed his young brother, Bienville (who founded New Orleans in 1718), in command of what he named Fort de la Boulaye, or on some maps, Fort du Mississippi. Three hundred years ago this year, it became the first permanent French settlement in the present state of Louisiana.

Source: Buddy Stall at