Shreveport waterworks subject of lecture in El Dorado

Jan 31, 2014

A Michigan Tech emeritus professor of history will give a presentation Monday about the early history of Shreveport Water Works and the city’s struggle to supply water prior to building a municipally-owned system. Terry Reynolds, a native of El Dorado, will address the South Arkansas Historical Foundation.

Shreveport Water Works circa 1911.
Credit South Arkansas Historical Foundation

“I'll be discussing the era when water was the responsibility of the individual householder, which was from the founding of Shreveport to about 1887. Then, I'll discuss the era when water became the responsibility of private companies, which went up to 1917 when municipal authorities took charge of it," Reynolds said.

Reynolds served on the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan Tech. He spent the majority of his academic career focused on the history of water power. He researched Shreveport’s water supply in 1980. At the time, Reynolds was part of a nationwide historical engineering record project. He said the researchers focused on Shreveport because it was the last waterworks in the country to still use steam engines as a backup pump for the city.

“This is 30-year-old research that I’m going back to and I’ve never delivered in a public forum before," Reynolds said. "Shreveport is a typical example of the stages that a medium-sized town went through in evolving a water supply system.”

Reynolds hopes people gain a new appreciation for clean water from their tap after taking in his presentation titled “The Struggle for Good Water.” It’s set for Monday, Feb. 3, at 5:15 p.m. at the Newton House Museum in El Dorado. The event is free and open to the public.