As settlers moved into central Louisiana in the mid-1700s, the
colonial Spanish government established a post named El Rapido, also
called Poste du Rapide by local French settlers.
During the same period, this site was selected as a public burial
place due to its high elevation above the local floodplain, and for
many years afterward it was known as the Old Catholic Cemetery.
The earliest known inscription is dated 1809, and among the persons
of all races interred here are numerous federal, state, parish, and
local officials as well as several founders of local communities.
A group of local citizens formed the Rapides Cemetery Association in
1872 to erect fencing and to hire a sexton or caretaker to manage
the cemetery grounds. The association maintained its operation
until the year 2000 when it transferred ownership of the cemetery
to the City of Pineville.
The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic
Places in 1979.