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Town of Waterproof
Waterproof, Louisiana, Water Tower
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Tensas
Elevation 69 ft (21 m)
Coordinates 31°48′25″N 91°23′07″W / 31.80694°N 91.38528°W / 31.80694; -91.38528
Area 0.7 sq mi (1.8 km2)
 - land 0.7 sq mi (2 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population 834 (2000)
Density 1,197.9 /sq mi (462.5 /km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code 318
Location of Waterproof in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States

Waterproof is a town in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, United States with a population of 834 as of 2000 census. Waterproof is approximately seventeen miles north of Ferriday, one of the two principal communities of Concordia Parish.

Poverty abounds in Waterproof, a delta town dependent on farming. Cotton is the most common crop, but corn and soybeans are also important. In 2008, drought destroyed much of the corn crop.

The closing of many businesses has vastly impacted downtown Waterproof.
The First Baptist Church of Waterproof
Abandoned buildings in Waterproof reflect recent economic decline of the community.
In contrast to the abandoned buildings, numerous attractive homes exist too in Waterproof.
Waterproof Town Hall



As of the census [1] of 2000, there were 834 people, 353 households, and 194 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,197.9 people per square mile (460.0/km²). There were 427 housing units at an average density of 613.3/sq mi (235.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 11.87% White, 87.41% African American, and 0.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 353 households out of which 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.2% were married couples living together, 28.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.8% were non-families. 40.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the town the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 19.5% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 75.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 66.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $10,250, and the median income for a family was $15,179. Males had a median income of $21,250 versus $14,792 for females. The per capita income for the town was $9,523. About 44.5% of families and 51.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 57.8% of those under age 18 and 57.6% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people from Waterproof

  • Sharon Renee Brown, Miss USA 1961, was born in Waterproof, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Brown and sister of twin brothers, Gary and Lary Brown. She was Miss Waterproof in 1961 but thereafter moved to Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in north Louisiana, when she won her national title.
  • Bobby Higginbotham, the African American mayor of Waterproof, has twice run against his fellow Democrat, Sheriff Rickey A. Jones, who is white. On July 24, 2007, Jones arrested Higginbotham on counts of impersonating a police officer, criminal trespass, and felony criminal damage to property. Higginbotham claimed that Jones arrested him as a way to keep Higginbotham from running for sheriff again in the October 20, 2007, nonpartisan blanket primary. Jones said that he incurred $7,500 in legal fees before he ever took office as sheriff because Higginbotham sued him on grounds that the election had been "rigged."[2] In the 2007 primary, Jones defeated Higgingotham, 2,188 (77.6 percent) to 631 votes (22.4 percent)[3]
  • Woodrow Wiley, Sr. (1916-2009), was the owner of Wiley's Grocery in Waterproof and the Tensas Parish Ward III constable for nearly three decades. The Waterproof native, an African American, died in Natchez, Mississippi, at the age of ninety-two. The son of the late Victor Wiley and the former Amanda Jones, Wiley was the father-in-law of former Waterproof Mayor Harold Turner. His son, Woodrow Wiley, Jr., is the president of the Tensas Parish Police Jury.[4]
  • Three young Waterproof men died in action in the Vietnam War: Carl Raymond Goodfellow (1942-1967), a U.S. Navy ensign; Robert Lee Ross (1947-1967), a U.S. Army private, and Douglas Mac Washington (1947-1968), an Army sergeant.[5]

In popular culture

The former Waterproof High School has closed, and students attend school at Tensas High School in St. Joseph
The former Lisbon Elementary School in Waterproof
A sixth-grade class gathers around the flagpole at the former Lisbon Elementary School in the 1971-1972 academic year

On March 4, 2000, Waterproof was featured on the popular National Public Radio talk show Whad'ya Know: The following description is taken directly from the Whad'ya Know site:

Back in the 1830s, one of the most popular spots for covered wagons crossing the Mississippi River was just north of present-day Natchez. As many as 50 wagons a day would cross, carrying settlers bound for Texas. Many of them tired of the journey, and simply stopped on the Louisiana side and made that spot home.

Often this area was under water, and on one such occasion, Abner Smalley, one of the early settlers, stood high dry on a small strip of land waiting for a steamboat to make its usual landing for a refill of cordwood. The captain cried out to Mr. Smalley, "Well Abner, I see you're waterproof," and that's how the name of this town was born. Present-day Waterproof is two and a half miles from its original location, having moved three times to escape flood waters. This led to the construction of a huge levee which snakes around the town, upon which you can walk and drive for a close view of the river.

Waterproof ... is located in Tensas Parish. A variety of edible products is (sic) shipped from here including pecans, candies, pepper jellies and hams...along with the hunters' favorite 20-foot high deer hunting stands...

Closed schools

Both the former Lisbon Elementary School and Waterproof High School have closed under Tensas Parish consolidation procedures because of declining enrollment numbers in Waterproof. Pupils from Waterproof attend public school in St. Joseph. There is also the private Tensas Academy in St. Joseph.


External links



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