What do Hank Williams, Sr., Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley have in common, besides successful musical careers? All three were regulars on the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show at some point during its 10-year run. The show took place at Shreveport's Municipal Memorial Auditorium on Grand Avenue and was aired on Saturday nights by local station KWKH. Elvis first performed here at the love-me-tender age of 19, and it's been suggested that his stint on the "Hayride" helped launch his career.
Hang out on the bayou and you might get a bug bite or two, but novelist Charlaine Harris would have you believe that something much more deadly is hungry to pierce your skin in Shreveport. Her Sookie Stackhouse series, which inspired the HBO series "True Blood," is set in Shreveport and the fictional city of Bon Temps. This is one of several vampire-starring stories that take place in Louisiana, where the multicultural milieu creates the perfect setting for seduction, superstition and, well, blood-sucking.
The land for the original Shreveport town site was sold to its founders, the Shreve Town Company, by the Caddo Indians in 1835. Although they were said to be a peaceful culture, the Caddos had a strict class system that inspired them to bind infants' heads to their cradles. The resulting flattened head shape signified that the child belonged to an elite family.
These days, a quarter won't get you much, but during the first half of the 20th century in Shreveport, it might have garnered you a performance from Ephraim David Tyler (1884-1969), the city's "Poet Laureate." A published poet who wrote about patriotism, racial problems and everyday life, Tyler lived on Logan Street, but traveled the nation to recite his work. He was known to recite poetry about the town as well, sometimes for a 25-cent fee, but often at no charge.
Fort Humbug may sound like a scrooge's play place, but in fact it's the name of one of Shreveport's historic military sites. In an effort to fool Federal spies into thinking the city was heavily armed, the hastily constructed fort featured fake cannons made from felled trees. The rudimentary ruse worked, and Union forces retreated. The structure was originally named Fort Turnbull, but, after this incident, it was revealed as "nothing but a humbug." Clearly, the name stuck!
Shreveport has seen some famous individuals, but to some, the most powerful person to reside here is Lady Luck. The city offers plenty of opportunities to play the odds, including five riverboat casinos. Those who want to bet on the horses head to nearby Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Shreveport's sister city, Bossier City.
Originally, Shreveport consisted of just 64 blocks, which were partially contained by the Red River and its tributary, Cross Bayou. Times, they have a-changed, but today these same 64 blocks make up the city's central business district. This district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with several of the city's other districts and many of its landmarks.
You can't see it from space, but you can see it from I-20. The "Once in a Millennium Moon Mega Mural," which spans 25,000 square feet on two sides of the AT&T building in Shreveport, was the largest public arts mural in the country as of 2012. More than just a pretty picture, this mural functions as a time capsule that preserves the life and people of this triumphant city.
Hasta la vista, Hollywood! Hello…Shreveport? Thanks in part to a tax incentive program started in 2002, Louisiana has become one of the nation's most popular filming locations, and Shreveport has seen its fair share of the spotlight. Not too surprisingly, included in the long list of television shows and movies filmed here is the "True Blood" pilot. So, while you hopefully won't encounter any real vamps in Shreveport, you just might bump into a flesh-and-blood celeb like Anna Paquin.
Residents of Shreveport can thank the Red River for helping inspire the creation of their city, but this nearby waterway wasn't always navigable. It was used from the 1830s to around 1914, when the railroad took over as a major means of transportation. Due to disuse, the river silted up and became non-navigable until the 1990s, when work began to restore Shreveport's status as a shipping center.
Already know about the Louisiana Hayride and other Shreveport, LA trivia? Check out these fun facts about Jackson.