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State budget cuts limit access to waterworks museum in Shreveport

Kate Archer Kent

The 16 Louisiana state-run museums will be open a lot less – at least until June 30 – due to mid-year budget cuts. At the McNeill Street Pumping Station in Shreveport, this tiny museum operation is to be open to visitors one day a week – at most. Dale Ward has been a diehard volunteer at the waterworks museum since 1999. The cuts came down as the museum hit a record number of visitors last year – 4,800, according to Ward.

“Those aren’t big numbers compared to the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge or Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport. But, on TripAdvisor, the Waterworks Museum bounces around anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 as most admired best attractions in Shreveport,” Ward said.

Since 2011, the McNeill Street Pumping Station Preservation Society has funded one part-time employee enabling the museum to be open five days a week. The state museum system funded the other part-time position. But now, Ward says, the society is being asked to pay thousands of dollars to keep the lights on over the next few months.

“This museum spends $52,000 to $54,000 per year for payroll, utilities, yard service -- everything. And the state just can’t afford it,” Ward said.

The city of Shreveport turned over the McNeill Street Pumping Station to the state, operating under the Secretary of State’s office, nine years ago.

The steam-powered engines and pumping equipment show how city drinking water was produced in the late 1800s up until 1980 when the water plant was mothballed.

It is a National Historic Landmark and a National Civil Engineering Historic Landmark, among other historical designations.

Credit Kate Archer Kent
Question historians: Does McNeill have one "L" or two?

Today, the city’s water treatment is the Thomas L. Amiss Plant located on Cross Lake.