Lake Bistineau camp was public center

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The Bossier Banner-Progress edition for January 19, 1956 carried an interesting story about a camp site on Lake Bistineau that was owned by Bossier Parish.

“The camp house and park on Lake Bistineau owned by Bossier Parish is a wholesome public and civic recreation center, and not a private place for the exclusive use of Police Jurors, their families and friends, according to a statement issued by W. H. Mercer, president of the Jury. He issued the statement to clear up a misunderstanding concerning its operation, he said.”

“The five acre tract on which the camp is located was donated in the early 1940’s by the late W. H. Hodges, Elm Grove planer and prominent civic and public leader and Patton Hawkins, Shreveport and Bossier City businessman, for use as a public park, Mr. Mercer said. The home was donated several years ago by the Federal government following completion of the Bodcau Spillway Dam. The house had been used for an office and other facilities and was abandoned. The Police Jury, previous to the one now serving, moved the house to the camp site and improvements have been added. The house is supplied with running water, electric lights, a kitchen, tables and rooms, but users must supply their own bedding. There are barbecue pits and outdoor tables on the grounds.”

“The camp is used by civic, patriotic and character building organizations, Sunday school classes and church groups and by families for reunions, Mr. Mercer said. It is supervised and no wild parties or revelry permitted, he said. It is the regular meeting place of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Bossier Bar Association, the Fourth District Rural Mail Carriers and similar groups, Mr. Mercer stated.”

“The Police Jury itself uses it each Labor Day for a barbecue and outing for parish officials, parish employees, their families and friends and citizens all over the parish, Mr. Mercer explained.”

“The Women’s Home Demonstration Council and clubs often at the camp have made many improvements, such as planting shrubbery and erecting a flag pole, the jury president asserted. During the summer, he pointed out, it is often used by Boy Scout groups and many Sunday school classes and church groups. Reservations for the use of the club must be made with the Police Jury office at Benton. There is no charge for its use, but all those using it must observe the rules of good conduct. There is a caretaker in charge, Mr. Mercer said.”

This writer spoke with Cindy Dodson, Secretary of the Bossier Parish Police Jury. She confirmed that there is a Parish Camp off of Parish Camp Road at Lake Bistineau. The camp has tables, a pavilion and a boat launch, all open and free for public use. Based on her knowledge of the camp, the house no longer exists.

If you have wondered about this or other Bossier Parish places, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center for more information.

 

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us