Are you a fan of the Yellowstone prequel 1883? The TV show follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey through the Great Plains to seek a better future in the days before roads and cars and Circle Ks. Anyone who ever says anything about the ‘Good Old Days’ should definitely sit down and have a watch.
It is worth remembering as we sit in our heated office or home that downtown Shreve Town, and later– Shreveport, was just as dangerous, wild and wooly as the frontier being crossed by the Duttons in their television adventures. Freight from the Red River was loaded onto wagons and made its way down Texas Street for the long drive into Texas and beyond. There were no guarantees that either the freight or those guarding it would survive the trip.
Our friends Mike and Mark Mangham of Twin Blends: Northwest Louisiana History Hunters, have dug up some 130+ year old photos at the LSUS Archives showing what life looked like in downtown Shreveport in the 1890s. Shreveport was already a thriving ‘frontier’ town with dirt roads, no running water, sewerage in the street and yellow fever. Heat was mainly from wood (there were a lot of fires), light was from kerosene lanterns (there were a lot of fires), dirty water, spoiled meat, and infections could kill you, you could only travel as fast as your mule could walk. Tough life? That’s an understatement.
(You see the electric lines below? by 1925, only half the homes in the U.S. had access to electric power).
But those who were around, even for a short time, created a thriving trading center filled with shops, bars, churches, hotels and entertainment. The Grand Opera House on the NW corner of Edwards and Market became a stop for a variety of A-list performers traveling from New York City and beyond.
It’s a fascinating look back at where we came from- and it certainly helps us know how far we have come! To see more fascinating photos, follow Twin Blend’s Facebook Page.