Mansfield, in Northern Louisiana, is an example of a small town with several big stories, the largest of which revolves around the American Civil War. The parish seat of DeSoto Parish (the Louisiana equivalent of a county), the city is home of several historical sites, including the first women's college in the western United States, and the site of one of the largest Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River (which was also the last major victory of the Southern States during the war).
A historic log cabin courthouse, a charming downtown square, larger-than-life stories of days gone by, and a real joie de vivre among the residents, are key signatures of this seemingly hidden city, which lies 10 miles away from the major Interstate highway in the area. Formed by frontier settlement, marked by the tragedies of the American Civil War, and built up by a sense of community, Mansfield is a surprising town surrounded by the pine forests of northwest Louisiana.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Mansfield is in northwest Louisiana, an area that sees some of the widest temperature extremes in Louisiana. Summers are typically very hot and humid, with temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) common during this time. Although the humidity is somewhat less than the southern and central areas of Louisiana, take the same precautions for this area that you would in New Orleans or areas to the south. During the summer months, it is always advisable to carry several bottles of water in your car, and to dress appropriately for the hot weather. Winters are cool and moist, but the town is still susceptible to colder temperatures than areas further south. Some years have seen winter temperatures as low as 15 °F (−9 °C), so bring plenty of warm clothes during winter months.
The most practical way to get to Mansfield is by personal car. Several highways pass through the city.
- US Highway 171 passes through town from north to south. Shreveport is to the north, while Many and Lake Charles are to the south.
- US Highway 84 passes through from east to west. Logansport and the Texas state line are to the west, while Coushatta is to the east. If coming from Natchitoches via Interstate 49, take Exit 172 (Mansfield/Coushatta) and drive 9 miles west.
- For travelers coming in from Shreveport via Interstate 49, Louisiana Highway 175 is the fastest route to the city and can be accessed from I-49 at Exit 186 (Frierson/Kingston exit).
There is a small public airstrip for charter flights or personal aircraft.
The nearest airports with commercial service are:
- Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV IATA), 38 miles north via LA-175 and I-49 North. Airlines serving are Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.
- Alexandria Regional Airport (AEX IATA), 93 miles southeast via US-84 and I-49 South. Airlines serving are American and United.
Driving is the best way to get between sights in and around Mansfield.
The four city blocks that make up downtown Mansfield are easily traversed by foot and offer a great way to get up close to both the 19th-century log cabin DeSoto Parish Courthouse and the more modern courthouse.
- 1 Mansfield Female College Museum, 101 Monroe Street, ☏ . W-F 10AM-4PM, closed Su-Tu. The site of the first college for women west of the Mississippi River was created by the Methodist Church in the mid 1800s. The college closed briefly during the American Civil War period, but reopened immediately after the war. Closed permanently in the 1930s after merging with the university in Shreveport. Museum houses exhibits and artifacts from the college and its students. Free.
- 2 Mansfield State Historic Site, 15149 Hwy 175, ☏ , toll-free: . W-Su 9AM-5PM, closed M Tu. On April 8, 1864, the Union Army attempted to gain control of the city of Shreveport, but was repelled and forced back to New Orleans by Confederate troops from Louisiana and Texas in the Battle of Mansfield, one of the largest American Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River, with only Pleasant Hill and Westport having more soldiers engaged. Through exhibits, programs, and interpretive talks, this site educates and interprets the events and history of the Battle of Mansfield and the Red River Campaign. $4.00 a person, ages 4-62. Free for children 3 and under, seniors over age 62.
- 3 Original DeSoto Parish Courthouse (1843 Courthouse), Corner of Polk and Madison Streets (Go 3 blocks east of the modern courthouse on Texas Street and turn right onto Madison Street). M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. The original log courthouse of DeSoto Parish. Created in 1843, but replaced over a decade later by new structure three blocks west. Was rediscovered in the 1940s and was preserved by the local historical commission. Contains period artifacts and furniture. The site is an example of rural antebellum architecture of this period. Free.
- 4 Pleasant Hill Battle Park, 23271 Louisiana Highway 175, Pelican. Sunrise to Sunset. Site of the Battle of Pleasant Hill, April 9, 1864; historic markers, picnic area, old historic cemetery, annual reenactment on the second weekend of April. Free.
- Hike the interpretive trail at Mansfield State Historic Site.
- Attend a reenactment at the Pleasant Hill Battle Site in April, 20 miles southeast on Highway 175.
- Watch the Mardi Gras parade in January or February to see the event with a unique north Louisiana twist.
- Attend a classic piece of Americana at one of the local high school football games in the fall. Local high school football teams are the Mansfield Wolverines and the Central Pioneers (Grand Cane, 8 miles NW on US 171).
There are no specialty stores for tourists to buy souvenirs of the city or any of its sights. For Louisiana and other regional memorabilia, it is best to travel north to Shreveport or south on Interstate 49 (via U.S. 84 9 miles east of the city) to Natchitoches, both of which have more developed infrastructure and resources for tourists than Mansfield. For general personal items and retail goods, there are a handful of stores available.
General supplies and groceries
- 1 Family Dollar, 811 Polk Street, ☏ . Daily 8AM - 10PM. General retail.
- 2 Walmart Supercenter, 7292 Highway 509, ☏ . Daily 6AM - 11PM. General retail and groceries. Pharmacy.
- 1 Billy B's Cajun Grill, 13147 US-171, ☏ . M 10:30AM-2PM, Tu-Th 10:30AM-2PM and 4:30PM-9PM, F 10:30AM-2PM and 4:30PM-10PM, Sa 4PM-10PM, closed Su. Traditional Southern U.S. fare. Despite the restaurant's name, few of the dishes here are actually "Cajun." Fried fish, hamburgers, steaks. Full service bar is attached to the restaurant. $10-$20 a person.
- 2 Armadillo Mexican Restaurant, 770 Washington Ave. (Near the intersection of US 171 & US 84 Business), ☏ . Su-Th 9AM-9PM; F Sa 9AM-10PM. Mexican restaurant built into half of a small video poker casino. Tamales, enchiladas, and fajitas are some of the options available. Good margaritas and alcohol selection. Half of the building is still a casino and is open 24 hours. $10 and up.
- 3 Great Wall Chinese Buffet, 1312 McArthur Drive, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM. $10-$15.
- 4 Mansfield Diner (Near LA 175 & LA 509 intersection; part of Mansfield Travel Plaza), ☏ . Daily 6AM-9PM. Small diner built into a truck stop. Great food with lunch specials and good staff. The chicken fried steak is always a good bet. Only place in Mansfield with a dine-in option for breakfast. $6 and up for breakfast; $10 and up for lunch and dinner.
U.S. fast food chains in Mansfield include Dairy Queen, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, and Sonic. In addition, there is a local fast food chicken chain, which is popular:.
- 5 Southern Classic Chicken, 410 Washington Avenue, ☏ . $5 to $10.
Beer, wine, and liquor can be purchased from Market Basket or Walmart, but bars and nightclubs are virtually non-existent here. The closest establishments for drink will be in Shreveport.
Coffee houses and cafes
There are no cafes or coffee shops in Mansfield, but the local fast food chains offer coffee and espresso-based drinks.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||$70 and under|
|Mid-range||$70 to $99|
|Splurge||$100 and up|
- 1 Burtons Gatehouse Inn, 604 Washington Ave, ☏ .
- 2 Rodeway Inn (formerly Mansfield Inn), 1055 Washington Ave., ☏ .
- 3 Super 8, 1313 McArthur Drive, ☏ . $65 a night and up.
- 4 Best Western Plus Desoto Inn & Suites, 611 Jenkins Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
- 1 DeSoto Parish Library, 109 Crosby Street, ☏ . M-Th 9AM-6PM, F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM, closed Su. Computers and Wi-Fi available to connect to the Internet, as well as regional and national periodicals and news. Free.
- 2 United States Post Office, 100 Crosby Street. 8:15 AM - 4:15 PM Monday thru Friday, Closed Saturday and Sunday.
- Local radio station KJVC 92.7 FM has a handful of daily news broadcasts and talk programs.
- The Mansfield Enterprise and Interstate Progress is the local newspaper for Mansfield and DeSoto Parish. The Shreveport Times is also available from most retail and convenient stores.
- As in all areas of the United States, dial 911 for any emergency services.
- Law enforcement is provided by the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office and the Mansfield Police Department[dead link]. The Louisiana State Police patrol areas outside of the city limits and often assist on major crimes.
- Fire and Emergency Medical services are provided by the Mansfield Fire Department[dead link] and DeSoto Parish EMS respectively.
- Mansfield, while a very beautiful and friendly town overall, has a higher than average crime rate for most towns of its size: less than 5,000 people live here, and the chances of becoming a crime victim are 1 in 89: almost on par with some larger cities. Property crime is by far the most common, with theft and burglary being the top 2 offenses. It is advisable to spend as little time as possible outside after dark, especially in the southern half of the town, unless participating in a group activity.
- The residential part of town bordered by US 84 Business to the west, Gibbs Street to the north, and the city limits to the east and south is especially inadvisable after nightfall.
- During the day time, you should have no issues, but use common sense wherever you go. The aforementioned residential side of the city has beautiful church architecture and an old plantation home, but be alert. If you see someone come up to you and they look sketchy or suspicious in any way, walk or drive away.
- Logansport (Louisiana) - Fishing on the Sabine River, access to Toledo Bend, last international boundary marker between the United States and the Republic of Texas.
- Natchitoches - Oldest city in Louisiana, historic homes and forts, scenic downtown district on Cane River Lake.
- Piney Woods - East Texas, known for forestry, lakes, old Main Street communities, and camping.
American Civil War enthusiasts
If visiting Mansfield for Civil War history, the logical next steps for southbound travelers would be to visit the monuments at the Pleasant Hill Battle Site southeast of the city on Highway 175. From there, it is a two-mile drive south to the modern town of Pleasant Hill, where you can turn left onto Highway 174 and drive east back to Interstate 49 for southbound transit.
If heading north, Shreveport offers tidbits of Civil War history and exhibits at its Spring Street Historical Museum and the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.
For outdoors enthusiasts, heading west to the Toledo Bend Reservoir on either the Texas or Louisiana side offers a variety of opportunities for boating, camping, and fishing. An hour northeast of Mansfield near the village of Doyline is Lake Bistineau State Park, which offers both cabin, primitive, and RV camping, along with boating and fishing for bass and catfish.
|Routes through Mansfield|
|Fairfield ← Logansport ←||W E||→ Coushatta → Natchez|
|END ← Shreveport ←||N S||→ Many → Lake Charles|
|END ← Jct N S ←||N S||→ Many → END|