Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Secret Shreveport

I am cheating. I just published this on

The secret Shreveport A secret path through a hidden forest along a forgotten river exists in the eye of Shreveport. Surrounded by Youree Drive, Shreveport-Barksdale Highway, Clyde Fant Parkway, and Stoner Avenue, the Coates Bluff Trail is the calm center of an urban storm. The Coates Bluff Trail can be accessed by one of three sites (assuming you need to park a car): Viking Drive at Valencia Recreation Center, East Merrick Street across from Hopewell Baptist Church, and Sykes Street next to The Montessori School for Shreveport. The trail, sometimes called Coates Bluff Greenway, Coates Bluff Nature Trail, and Coates Bluff History and Nature Trail, is on city property and is maintained by the nonprofit organization A Better Shreveport. The Coates Bluff Trail is a spectacular place to bird watch, bicycle, and hike, but the intrigue of this buried treasure is that it might actually have buried treasure! This forested land, bluff, and bayou fragment along the city’s sewer line greeted the Freeman and Custis Expedition, Henry Miller Shreve, and Jefferson Davis as they traveled north via the Red River. All of Shreveport’s early settlers – as well as untold indigenous peoples here before them – touched this little piece of land. I know of one cemetery clutching the edge of the slope behind Stoner Hill Elementary School... and of one Oldsmobile from the early 1980s enveloped in cottonwoods behind Caddo Magnet High School. What other secrets does the Coates Bluff Trail keep?