Over 130 Years of History is Hiding at This Shreveport Museum
Shreveport is an old city. Our town was founded way back in 1836 as Shreve Town by the Shreve Town Company as a way to take advantage of the newly navigable Red River. Just 6 years earlier, Captain Henry Shreve (our namesake) had begun clearing an incredibly large log jam from the area so that ships could make use of the waterway for commerce and transportation. Since the widely used and very popular Texas Trail intersected the mighty Red, that was the spot picked for Shreveport.
In fact, Shreveport is second only to New Orleans in Louisiana in terms of recognized historical landmarks. Some you may know, but even more are hidden and nearly forgotten.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it
In 1887, Shreveport's water supply was as high-tech as it got. That's when the McNeill Street Water Treatment Plant was built as the original water-works for the city. It was the second such plant ever constructed in Louisiana, as well as being one of the first ever in the Civil War-torn South. It was a privately owned facility that handled water treatment, distribution, and sewer collection for 30 years - that's when the city of Shreveport forced the owners to sell the facility to the city. The steam-powered water plant would continue to operate for an astounding total of 107 years before being decommissioned in 1994.
The main reason for its construction probably isn't what you think
According to the museum's official website, the introduction of the McNeil Street Pumping Station would make it affordable for the city's poor to have adequate access to clean water. Before the water-works started cleaning and pumping water, citizens had to pay for clean water brought in from area springs "at a cost of five cents per bucket or 50 cents per barrel." That price was simply too high for anyone but the wealthy to afford to have clean water to drink, bathe with, or clean very often. This was obviously a health issue that affected the entire city - but that wasn't the issue that brought the facility about. It was the possibility of fire engulfing the city that spurred the project on. With out a large and ready supply of water, firefighters (and the city of Shreveport) wouldn't stand a chance.
This 134-year old historic Shreveport treasure is hiding in plain sight
If you haven't visited the museum, now's the time. This rare sight has all of the original steam works in place so you can see what it was like when Shreveport stepped into the modern world more than a century ago. It's located at 142 N Common Street near its namesake, McNeil Street. Check out their operating hours and find out more here.