Attractions (Historic and Current)

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Entry Category: Attractions (Historic and Current)

Albert Pike Memorial Temple

  The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700–724 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another …

Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was created to honor Arkansans who have made outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. Honorees include performers, non-performing contributors (such as writers, directors, and producers), and pioneers in the entertainment industry. In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the establishment of a museum honoring Arkansans who have made a considerable contribution to the entertainment industry. The first inductees were honored in 1996. The following year, the state legislature transferred the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the Department of Parks and Tourism, along with $300,000. Several cities competed to host the museum. Pine Bluff was eventually chosen, with the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau receiving $250,000 to establish …

Arkansas Heritage Trails System

The Arkansas Heritage Trails System is a network of driving tours created by the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT), and Arkansas Department of Transportation to mark the approximate routes through Arkansas of the Trail of Tears, Southwest Trail, Butterfield Overland Mail Route, and Civil War campaigns. The Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly mandated the development of a trails system through Act 728 of 2009, the Heritage Trails System Act. The act called for the system to include the Butterfield Overland Mail Company route, which included routes from the Missouri state line near Pea Ridge (Benton County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and from Memphis, Tennessee, to Fort Smith; the Southwest Trail from the Missouri border …

Arkansas River Visitor Center

The Arkansas River Visitor Center, dedicated on August 20, 1985, was designed to acquaint visitors with the Arkansas River, its history and culture, and its transformation into the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The visitor center is located in Russellville (Pope County) on Lock and Dam Road, three miles west of Highway 7. The visitor center was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, at the site of the Russellville Project Office. It overlooks the Dardanelle Lock and Dam and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Russellville Project Office. The Dardanelle Lock and Dam was a logical choice for the center as it is located near the mid-point of the navigation …

Bathhouse Row

Bathhouse Row Historic District extends along the foot of the mountain that gives rise to the thermal springs in Hot Springs National Park. Located in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), the scene is dominated by the most recent of a succession of bathing buildings dating back to 1830. Bathhouse Row includes eight surviving bathhouses: the Hale, Maurice, Buckstaff, Fordyce, Superior, Quapaw, Ozark, and Lamar. The landscape features sculptured fountains, water displays, and the Grand Promenade. Bathhouse Row has become the architectural core for downtown Hot Springs. History The first structures in the area to take advantage of the thermal springs were likely the sweat lodges of local Native Americans, which were followed by an unplanned conglomeration of buildings subject to …

Big River Crossing

aka: Harahan Bridge
The Harahan Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River to connect Memphis, Tennessee, with West Memphis (Crittenden County), was built in 1916 as a two-track railroad bridge and converted in 2016 to add a bicycle and pedestrian pathway, replacing one of the old abandoned auto roadways; the structure was renamed Big River Crossing. The Union Pacific Railroad owns the bridge and agreed to add the pathway, which was financed with a federal grant. The new pathway connects Main Street in Memphis to the Delta Regional River Park on the Arkansas side and to the Big River Trail. After completion, the Big River Trail, for use by pedestrians and bikers, will extend from the head waters of the river to the Gulf …

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness

The Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. At an elevation of 2,403 feet, the east-west-oriented Black Fork Mountain, formed by a geologic uplift, features rock screes, or flows. The large rock flows, sometimes called “glaciers,” and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The U.S. Congress designated 13,139 acres as the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness in 1984. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas (Arkansas has approximately 8,350 acres, while Oklahoma has approximately 4,789 acres), this area contains the thirteen-mile-long rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. In both states, the ridge rises to …

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns (BSC) is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, fifteen miles northwest of Mountain View (Stone County). The only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Three guided tours through the caves are open to the public: the Dripstone Trail (open all year), the Discovery Trail (open during the summer), and the Wild Cave (open by special reservation). The limestone rock from which the cave developed was formed by fossilized sediment from sea creatures at the bottom of an ancient inland sea estimated to exist about 350–500 million years ago. When …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center

The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center, which was formally dedicated on April 12, 2014, occupies two of the oldest surviving buildings in downtown Calico Rock (Izard County): the E. N. Rand Building (built in 1903) and the Bluff City Bank Building (built in 1896). The museum foundation also owns the 1906 Calico Rock Progress Building, which houses a café and ice cream parlor. While the museum preserves and displays the art and history of the community, it also has a contract with the City of Calico Rock to provide visitor center services. In 2007, a group of interested citizens formed the Calico Rock Organization for Revitalization Efforts (CORE) and began searching for a location to establish a museum to …

Clinton Birthplace

aka: President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
aka: Bill Clinton Birthplace
William Jefferson Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, lived the first four years of his life in his grandparents’ home at 117 South Hervey Street in Hope (Hempstead County). Since June 1997, known as the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, has been open to the public as a museum. The house was built in 1917 for Dr. H. S. Garrett, who evidently designed the house to imitate his previous dwelling in France. The two-and-a-half-story, 2,100-square-foot building contains six rooms, including a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and the nursery where Clinton slept. The house was purchased in 1938 by Eldridge Cassidy and Edith Grisham Cassidy, Clinton’s grandparents. Their daughter, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, made her home …

Community Theatre

The Community Theatre in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is one of the oldest one-screen, nickelodeon-type theaters in Arkansas, complete with a soundproof room where mothers could take their crying children and continue to watch the movie. The renovated structure is now owned and operated by a local non-profit agency and was used for part of the Pine Bluff Film Festival. Pine Bluff’s Community Theatre first opened its doors in 1922 in what was once known as the Breckinridge Building. The building was completed in 1889 and owned by local congressman and minister to Russia Clifton Rodes Breckinridge. Contractor William I. Hilliard built the Breckinridge Building, as well as the Jefferson County Courthouse (1890). S & H Kress & Co., a …

Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) by the Eureka Springs Investment Company, the president of which was former governor Powell Clayton. The organization purchased twenty-seven acres of wooded land for the site of the hotel and hired Isaac S. Taylor from St. Louis, Missouri, as architect for the project. The massive eighteen-inch-thick stones used for the body of the hotel were made of limestone, hand-carved from a quarry on the White River near Beaver (Carroll County) by a crew of Irish workers. These stones were hauled to the site of the hotel by trains and specially constructed wagons, and were placed in such a fashion that no mortar was needed. The hotel boasted every …

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, National Scenic Byway

As Arkansas’s first National Scenic Byway, Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, merges six U.S. highways, nine Arkansas highways, and 11.5 miles of well-maintained gravel road through a national forest to track the crest of Crowley’s Ridge, the sole geographical phenomenon ridge formation in North America and one of only two similar geological ridge formations in the world (the other being in Siberia). The parkway stretches 198 miles over a half million acres in Arkansas, encompassing eight counties and eleven communities from St. Francis (Clay County) to Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). An additional 14.2 miles run through Missouri. As one of Arkansas’s three national byways—the other two being Talimena Scenic Byway and the Great River Road—Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is one of the 126 …

Diamond Cave

Diamond Cave, one of Arkansas’s many noteworthy caves, is located on Henson Creek, three miles from Jasper (Newton County). Diamond Cave is an underground natural wonder, containing a display of stalactites, columns, and stalagmites running many miles into the mountain. The discovery of Diamond Cave is credited to Samuel Hudson, a veteran hunter, an early settler in Newton County, and a member of the eleventh Arkansas General Assembly. Folklore has it that he and some companions discovered this cave while hunting bear early in the nineteenth century; he followed his dogs into the cave, discovered two of them dead from a battle with bears, and then killed one of the bears. The name Diamond Cave probably came from the abundant …

Dogpatch USA

Dogpatch USA operated from 1968 to 1993 as an amusement park based on characters and locations in Al Capp’s popular “Li’l Abner” comic strip. The town of Marble Falls (Newton County) between Jasper (Newton County) and Harrison (Boone County) changed its name officially to Dogpatch to help promote the park. The name was changed back in 1997. Harrison real estate broker Oscar J. Snow conceived the park when Albert Raney Sr. listed his Ozark trout farm for sale in 1966. Snow and nine other investors formed Recreation Enterprises, Inc. (REI) and approached Bostonian Al Capp with the idea. Capp, who had rejected such offers in the past, agreed to be a partner in the enterprise. The partners acquired 1,000 acres, …

Elna M. Smith Foundation

aka: Five Sacred Projects
aka: Sacred Projects
The Elna M. Smith Foundation was created in 1965 by Gerald L. K. Smith and his wife, Elna M. Smith, for whom it was named. The foundation is the nonprofit organization that serves as the umbrella company supervising the Five Sacred Projects and other activities and attractions on Magnetic Mountain, just east of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Gerald L. K. Smith was a controversial politician and anti-Semitic minister in the 1930s and 1940s. That controversy followed him to Eureka Springs. When he retired, he decided to leave politics and other activities behind him, and he and his wife committed to focus their energies on creating a legacy of preserving Americana. Included in their dream was buying and restoring historic houses. …

Esse Purse Museum

Esse Purse Museum in the historic urban neighborhood of Southside Main Street (SoMa) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of three brick-and-mortar purse museums in the world. The museum’s name comes from the Latin infinitive for “to be,” and the logo is styled as ESSE. The owner, Anita Davis, created the permanent museum in Little Rock in 2013 after exhibiting selections from her purse collection around the country from 2006 to 2011. Esse Purse Museum has a permanent exhibit that showcases purses throughout an entire century, including what they held; the museum also occasionally holds temporary exhibits. The museum’s gift shop offers designer purses, jewelry, wallets, and other accessories. The historic building on 1510 South Main Street that houses …