What are the queer-looking rock mounds on Beauregard Avenue between Robert E. Lee Boulevard and Lake Pontchartrain?
Those are relics of the former Old Spanish Fort, named Fort San Juan, which was erected in 1773 by Luis Hector, Baron de Carondelet, who served as Spanish governor of Louisiana from 1791-1797. The fort originally was built as protection from Native Americans and pirates.
Sancho Pablo, commander of the Spanish Army, was buried at the site. Legend has it that he was involved in a forbidden love affair with the Native American princess Owaisse and was killed by her father.
After Louisiana became part of the U.S. in 1803, Fort San Juan (it was called Fort St. Jean by French soldiers) was garrisoned to protect against a possible British invasion in the run-up to the War of 1812. In that war, the British successfully invaded Washington, D.C., but they were foiled at New York, Baltimore and New Orleans. The American victory at the Chalmette Battlefield in 1815 was the final major battle of that war. Technically, the war officially ended shortly before that battle (word had not yet reached the locals when the battle took place), but Andrew Jackson's victory — with the help of Jean Lafitte — contributed mightily to a local and national sense of pride. Because America's military later (in the 1820s) built Fort Macomb at Chef Menteur Pass and Fort Pike on the Rigolets, the Old Spanish Fort was deemed no longer essential.
After the Civil War, the area around the fort became a resort with a hotel, casino and bandstand. A railway line extended from the city to Lake Pontchartrain, but was suspended after a fire at the resort in 1906. Five years later, the resort was redeveloped with amusement rides, restaurants and dance halls, and a new railway was extended to this section. In the late 1920s, the area declined in popularity and the resort closed. The Orleans Levee District purchased the land in 1937 and still owns it today.