Fort Proctor was built in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana during the 19th century. The fort is also known as Fort Beauregard or Beauregard’s Castle, named after Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, an American military officer who supervised the fort’s construction along with the architect Joseph Gilbert Totten. The ruins of the fort lie on the shore of Lake Borgne which is just north of Bayou Yscloskey.
When the fort was built during the 1850s, there was also a nearby railroad port called “Proctorville. In 1814 the British advanced their Navy up Lake Borgne and defeated the New Orleans Squadron gunboats in the Battle of Lake Borgne. After the battle, Fort Proctor was built to be part of the fortifications to protect water routes going to New Orleans. However, due to the delays caused by hurricane damage and the outbreak of the American Civil War, Fort Proctor was never garrisoned. Improvements made in artillery by the end of the Civil War enabled the fort obsolete.
Though the fort never ended up being used for its original purpose, it did have some unusual design innovations, including comfortable living quarters and bathrooms, and the extensive use of structural iron during its construction.
Before being engulfed by Lake Borgne, the ruins of Fort Proctor were a gathering place for teens looking for an unsupervised spot during the 1940s and 50s. During the 1960s, the construction of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal cut off the land access to the fort, but it could still be seen at a distance from Shell Beach, Louisiana. The saltwater intrusion from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet killed the cypress and oak trees on the land surrounding Fort Proctor. The fort was originally built 150 feet inland from the shoreline, but now it sits several hundred feet out in the water.
The National Register of Historic Places – the US federal government’s official list of historically significant sites, structures, and objects worthy of preservation – added Fort Proctor to their record in 1978.
If you want to see Fort Proctor now, you will have to take a boat. You can launch your boat from Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach. Take a short ride up to Lake Borgne through Bayou Yscloskey, and you’ll be able to see the fort just west of the bayou’s mouth.