The Port of Shreveport-Bossier lies on the Red River in northwest Louisiana. The Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area covers three parishes in Louisiana: De Soto, Bossier, and Caddo. The Port of Shreveport-Bossier is about 17 river miles downriver from the downtown Shreveport and about 44 kilometers (27 miles) south of Bossier City. The Port of Shreveport-Bossier is part of the Red River waterway system. It is about 235 kilometers (168 miles) north-northwest of the Port of Lake Charles and about 254 kilometers (158 miles) north-northeast of the Port of Beaumont in Texas. The 2010 US Census reported a total population of 398,604 in the Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area.
Shreveport is the third biggest city in the State of Louisiana, and it is the seat of Caddo Parish. It follows the Red River into Bossier Parish. Bossier City is on the other side of the Red River from Shreveport. People who live there commonly refer to the two cities as Shreveport-Bossier. Before the oil glut of the 1980s, Shreveport was important in the oil business. Standard Oil of Louisiana was headquartered there. Shreveport and the Port of Shreveport-Bossier suffered from the oil glut and lost businesses and population in the latter 20th Century. Today, the economy of the metropolitan area has changed to a service economy. The gaming industry has boomed there, and the number of racetracks has grown.
Before the white man arrived in the area, the Caddo Nation inhabited the area that would become the Port of Shreveport-Bossier. The Caddo Nation is a coalition of several indigenous tribes of people who lived in East Texas, north Louisiana, and parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Today the Caddo are a federally-recognized tribe whose government is located in Binger, Oklahoma.
Archaeologists believe that the cultural community has been maintained unbroken from its earliest beginnings until today. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Caddo are descendants of Woodland Period peoples who lived here from around 200 BC to about 800 AD when different cultures had begun to combine into the Caddoan Mississippian Culture. Some of their villages were important as ritual centers where temple mounds were constructed around central plazas. The Caddoan culture was firmly established by 1000 AD.
The town of Shreveport was created after Captain Henry Miller Shreve of the US Army Corps of Engineers cleared a 289-kilometer (180-mile) long natural logjam that had blocked the Red River for ages, preventing shipping on the river. The town was named to honor Shreve, its first name being Shreve Town.
In 1835, the Caddo Indians sold a section of land to Shreve's company. When Caddo Parish was created in 1838, Shreveport was made its seat. In 1939, "Shreveport" was incorporated as a town that soon became a center for steamboat trade moving cargoes of agricultural crops and cotton. There was a slave market in Shreveport, and by 1860 the population consisted of 2200 free citizens and 1300 slaves.
From 1863 until 1865, during the American Civil War, Shreveport was Louisiana's capital city after both Baton Rouge and Opelousas had been taken by the Union. Shreveport continued to be a stronghold for the Confederates through the end of the war. Due to its relative isolation, fighting continued in the area for weeks after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The Red River was navigable through the entire Civil War, but water levels were so low at one point that Southern gunboats were trapped.
By 1914, the coming of the railroad and the lack of clearance on the Red River combined to bring use of the river for commerce to an end. This continued until 1994 when the US Army Corps of Engineers completed a navigation channel and a series of lock-and-dam structures.
Since the early 20th Century, Shreveport has been a center for American music. Huddie William Ledbetter ("Lead Belly") developed his style of blues and performed in the city's red light district in the early 1900s. Many leading blues, jazz, and ragtime fathers were from Shreveport, including Jesse Thomas, William Christopher O'Hare, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Dave Alexander. In the mid-20th Century, performers like Elvis Presley and Hank Williams Sr. got a start in Shreveport.
In the last decade of the 20th Century, riverboat gambling came to Shreveport, stimulating a revitalized downtown and riverfront. The Port of Shreveport-Bossier received its first cargo in 1995. Since then, it has handled over five million tons of cargo. The Red River is again a major route for trade and commerce, and more than 13 corporations use the Port of Shreveport-Bossier.
As the 21st Century arrived, the Haynesville Shale discovery and a booming natural gas industry have created excitement in Shreveport and anticipation of a new economic growth era. The serious recession in the United States, however, has postponed that future prosperity. Still, the City of Shreveport and surrounding areas look forward to leasing mineral rights for public lands.