Clark County Museum

The Clark County Museum, which opened in 2002, is operated by the Clark County Historical Association and located in the Missouri Pacific Depot in Arkadelphia (Clark County). The mission statement of the museum reads in part: “The museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the rich and diverse history of Clark County from prehistoric times to the present. The museum is also committed to educating the public about the important people and events that have influenced the county. Artifacts that best represent the various eras in Clark County history will be displayed for preservation and educational purposes within the museum.”

The Clark County Historical Association was founded on October 30, 1972, in Arkadelphia. While members of the group desired to open a museum, they instead worked to create an archival collection of county records to be held in the Riley-Hickingbotham Library at Ouachita Baptist University. Other projects of the association included an annual journal, a driving tour of historic sites in the county, and various events to promote historic preservation efforts.

An effort to create a museum in the Benjamin House located on Main Street in Arkadelphia failed in 1994 when the funds required to purchase or move the structure were not gathered in time prevent the destruction of the home. With the mid-1990s closure of the Henderson State University Museum, located in the Captain Charles Christopher Henderson House, the city lacked any historical museum. Additional efforts were organized to construct a museum to display Caddo Indian artifacts in Central Park, located between Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University. While this project was unsuccessful, it did galvanize public support behind the creation of a museum. Through the efforts of the association and the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Pacific Depot in Arkadelphia was secured to house the museum.

The Missouri Pacific Depot in Arkadelphia was built in 1917, the same year that the Missouri Pacific bought the line that passed through Arkadelphia. The depot continues to serve as a stop for the Amtrak Texas Eagle. The city owns the building.

Funding for the creation of the museum came from various state grants and the association. The museum officially opened to the public in 2002.

The museum contains exhibits that focus on the prehistory of Clark County, with several displays that include items from the Hodges Collection, owned by Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University’s Joint Educational Consortium. Additional exhibits include information about businesses and industries in Clark County, details of the experience of civilians and soldiers in the county during the Civil War, and displays that relate to the history of the timber industry and other agricultural endeavors in the county. Rotating displays are housed in the first room of the museum, while three other rooms house permanent exhibits and a research library. A caboose and salt kettle are located across the street from the museum, along with a small park and picnic area.

The museum is open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The museum does not charge an admission fee.

For additional information:
Clark County Historical Association. http://www.clarkcountyhistory.org/ (accessed October 15, 2019).

Granade, S. Ray. “‘Our Many Projects’: Thirty Years of the Clark County Historical Association.” Clark County Historical Journal (2002): 1–31.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 10/15/2019