Dual State Monument
aka: Donaghey Monument
aka: Donaghey State Park
The Dual State Monument, also known as the Donaghey Monument, was built in 1931 on the Arkansas-Louisiana state line to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the boundary between the two states. It is also a memorial to the birthplace of George Washington Donaghey, governor of Arkansas between 1909 and 1913, who had the memorial constructed and was born about one mile south of the border.
The Dual State Monument straddles the Arkansas-Louisiana border in southeastern Union County, Arkansas, and north-central Union Parish, Louisiana. The rectangular monument features Art Deco-style bas-relief sculptures on its eastern and western faces and inscriptions flanked by stylized, vertical flutes on its northern and southern faces.
Though he spent most of his life in Arkansas, Donaghey wrote in his autobiography of his lifelong feeling of belonging to both Arkansas and Louisiana. This is why he chose to place the monument on the border to commemorate the drawing of the boundary. According to a one source, Donaghey personally supervised the monument’s construction.
In 1932, Donaghey secured donations of land from the Frost Lumber Co. and the Union Saw Mill Co. for a forty-nine-acre park around the site, with 30.55 acres in Arkansas and 18.5 acres in Louisiana. (He was apparently in discussion with the landowners before the monument was placed in 1931.) He also proposed building a replica of the log house that stood on the property during his childhood, and he hoped to move to the area after he retired. Donaghey died in 1937 without realizing either of those goals.
Dedication ceremonies for the monument were held on July 2, 1933, and attended by Governor Junius M. Futrell, former acting governor Xenophon O. Pindall, former governor Charles H. Brough (who, in 1933, sat on the Arkansas Park Commission), and Frank W. Scott of Union Saw Mill Co., who said during the ceremony, “This memorial signifies the stalwart dignity and power of Governor Donaghey and is typical of the grace and loveliness of that manhood which has won the affection of his fellow man.” Donaghey reminisced about growing up in the region and read a poem by Charles T. Davis, whom the former governor called “the poet laureate of Arkansas and the brilliant editorial paragraphist of the Arkansas Gazette.” Wallick’s Band of El Dorado (Union County) provided music for the 1,500 people who braved the southern Arkansas heat to attend the festivities.
Donaghey’s decision to focus the monument’s bas-relief carvings on modes of transportation may have reflected his well-documented youthful fascination with wagon trains and steamboats. The vast difference in methods of travel in the 100 years between establishment of the borderline and the monument’s construction is vibrantly illustrated by the bas-relief carvings, which include a side-wheeled steamboat, a stagecoach, a covered wagon, an airplane, an automobile, and a steam locomotive.
Though the park had a fund of $7,300 set aside to develop it as an attraction, Donaghey State Park was never developed, and the monument was soon largely forgotten. In 1952, Olinkraft, Inc., a timber company, bought most of the land surrounding the park, including the area around the monument. Local residents on both sides of the border knew of the monument hidden in the woods, but most believed the area was timber company property, not a state park. Raymond Farris, a Louisiana Highway Department employee, was in northern Union Parish inspecting roads in the early 1970s when he saw the monument, which had been exposed by a timber cut. He contacted Louisiana state representative Louise Johnson of Bernice, who had never heard of the monument despite having lived in the area for several years. Johnson became interested in preserving the monument and contacted top Olinkraft executives to get their assurances that no harm would come to the monument, and to negotiate with the firm to vacate the property and donate the access road leading to the monument to the state. She also worked with the Louisiana legislature to have the land recognized as a state park.
Finally, on April 6, 1975, the park and monument were rededicated in a ceremony dominated by Louisianans more than Arkansans, in contrast to the 1933 ceremonies. Though Governor David Pryor of Arkansas attended, Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards headlined the event, which was attended by some 1,000 people. Just one month later, the State of Arkansas sold all of the Arkansas part of Donaghey State Park, except for 1.9 acres to the north of the monument, to Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp.
Though the park itself was never developed, and the monument has suffered over the years from both the elements and vandalism, the Dual State Monument remains intact and is the earliest known manifestation of figurative, narrative Art Deco–influenced sculpture in the state of Arkansas. The Dual State Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 11, 2000.
For additional information:
“Big Crowd Expected at Park Dedication.” El Dorado Daily News, July 2, 1933, p. 1.
“Dedication of Donaghey State Park on Sunday.” El Dorado Daily News, July 1, 1933 p. 1.
Donaghey, George W. Autobiography of George W. Donaghey. Benton, AR: L. B. White Printing Co., 1939.
“Dual State Monument.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/UN0170.nr.pdf (accessed October 5, 2021).
George W. Donaghey Papers. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Johnson, Louise B. “The ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’ Dual State Park: A North Louisiana Historical Site.” Journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association 15 (Spring–Summer 1984).
“Leading Citizens of Two States Join in Ceremonies as Park is Dedicated.” El Dorado Daily News, July 4, 1933, p. 1.
Ledbetter, Calvin R., Jr. Carpenter from Conway. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.
Moore, Waddy W. “George W. Donaghey, Twenty-second Governor, 1909–1913.” In The Governors of Arkansas: Essays in Political Biography, 2nd ed., edited by Timothy P. Donovan, Willard B. Gatewood Jr., and Jeannie M. Whayne. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1995.
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
It’s so sad that Arkansas sold most of their part. This park has historical significance, commemorating the establishment of the state line.
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