Naturalist William Bartram

William Bartram, one of America's first native-born naturalist artists, reached Louisiana in 1775. 

The Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference will commemorate the 240th anniversary of naturalist William Bartram’s visit to Louisiana, starting with an opening reception on Sept. 3 and continuing from Sept. 8-12 with ceremonies at each of the sites where historical markers will be placed.

The culmination of the event will be a free lecture at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, by “Founding Gardeners” author Andrea Wulf, who will speak about the importance of William Bartram and his father, John, and the founding of the American Republic. The event will be held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., where the rededication of the original marker will take place at 3:30 p.m. Wulf’s 2011 award-winning book, “Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation,” was on the New York Times Best Seller List.

William Bartram was America’s first native-born naturalist artist and the first author in the modern genre of writers who portrayed nature through personal experience and scientific observation. Each marker includes a quote from Bartram’s book “Travels” that describes the natural, 18th-century environment he found in Louisiana.

Dedication ceremonies will be unique to each site and held in the sequence in which Bartram traveled through the greater Baton Rouge area. The schedule for the events is:

Foundation for Historical Louisiana lecture — 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, Old Governor’s Mansion, 502 North Blvd., Baton Rouge. “Bartram and Beyond: Baton Rouge Historic Landscapes,” presented by John Sykes, museum director of Magnolia Mound Plantation. Information: Myrna Bergeron, FHL, (225) 387-2463 or email $10; free for FHL members.

Trail Marker dedication — 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, Hilltop Arboretum, Beverly Brown Coates Auditorium, 11855 Highland Road, Baton Rouge. Dedication will be followed at 6 p.m. with the Bartram Tree Stroll led by Baton Rouge City Forester Steve Shurtz; 7 p.m. Louisiane Vintage Dancers perform. Information: Amy Hughes, Friends of Hilltop Arboretum, (225) 767-6916 or email

Trail Marker dedication — 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge. Dedication followed at 6 p.m. by “Plant Discovery” talk by Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter, and a 6:30 p.m. hike through the trees and trails in Burden Woods, led by Jeff Kuehny. Information: LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, (225)763-3990 or email

Trail Marker dedication — 5:30 p.m. Thursday Sept. 10, South Boulevard Trailhead, near the junction of the Riverfront Promenade and the levee bike path in downtown Baton Rouge. Parking available under the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge. Charles “Chip” Groat, of the Water Institute of the Gulf, will speak. There will also be a presentation of the Levee Loop Bicycle and Pedestrian Map and Information Guide followed by a walk along the Riverfront Promenade led by author and horticulturist Randy Harelson. Information: Whitney Cooper, Downtown Development District, (225) 389-5520 or email

Trail Marker dedication — 5:30 p.m. Friday Sept. 11, 22929 Old Scenic Highway (La. 964), Zachary, with historian Betty Tucker. Other events include: 1-2 p.m., open house at the Zachary Archives in Old Town Hall, 4410 Florida St., and the nearby train depot, circa 1890; 1-5 p.m., visit to the Buhler-Plains Cemetery, established 1826, site of the first Plains Presbyterian Church, La. 964; 1-5 p.m., tour of Annison Plantation, circa 1813, with period music, 21475 Old Scenic Highway; 4-5:30 p.m., visit to the Heritage Room at Plains Presbyterian Church. All events presented by the Zachary Historical Association. Information: Tucker, Zachary Historical Association, (225) 654-4062.

Trail Marker dedication — 5:30 p.m. Saturday Sept. 12, St. Francis Chapel, 10364 Pointe Coupee Road, New Roads, with remarks by author Randy Harelson. Preceded by a tour of the chapel at 5 p.m. with Noelie Ewing. At 6 p.m., there will be a vigil Mass at the chapel, circa 1890. Information: Harelson, Pointe Coupee Historical Society, (225) 240-3421 or email

Louisiana’s William Bartram Trail is a project led by the Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum, in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference in Georgia,