Attractions (Historic and Current)

Subcategories:
  • No categories
Clear

Entry Category: Attractions (Historic and Current)

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. Even in retirement, he continued to write and publish segregationist and anti-Semitic tracts, including The Cross and Flag. However, he and his wife also began to commit more energies on creating a legacy of preserving Americana. Included in their dream …

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 …

Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center

The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro (Craighead County) was built through the efforts of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). It is one of four such nature centers that were built after the 1996 passage of a one-eighth-cent conservation sales tax. Named after Forrest L. Wood, former commissioner and longtime supporter of the AGFC, the center opened on August 25, 2004, after nearly two years of construction. Located on the northern, wider part of the 200-mile-long Crowley’s Ridge, the center provides the public an opportunity to view wildlife in its habitat and learn about the area’s history. The facility maintains several interactive indoor/outdoor exhibits and offers two related films. Educational programs focus on Arkansas’s history …

Front Porch Stage

Located in Mount Ida (Montgomery County), the Montgomery County Front Porch Stage (MCFPS) is a nonprofit organization that produces free music concerts on the lawn of the Montgomery County Courthouse. Officially incorporated in 2013, MCFPS is governed by a five-member board of directors and raises money to provide musical instruments and equipment to schools in Montgomery County. The original idea for building a stage came from musicians and friends who were meeting on the courthouse lawn on Saturday afternoons to visit and play music. The stage started with a donated flatbed trailer, donated lumber, and volunteer labor in the summer and fall of 2000. Soon, a covered stage was constructed on the eastern side of the courthouse lawn, with a …

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County) is a department of the School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). It is a 210-acre botanical garden located on four and a half miles of Lake Hamilton shoreline and operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to be a resource for people desiring to improve their aesthetic, cultural, and scientific knowledge of plants, gardening, architecture, and landscape architecture, within a woodland environment. Arthur Cook, a Malvern (Hot Spring County) businessman, purchased the acreage in the 1920s for the purpose of harvesting the timber to manufacture hardwood flooring at his mill, Wisconsin-Arkansas Lumber. Shortly after the acquisition, the land was transformed into a large …

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center

aka: Delta Rivers Nature Center
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is Arkansas’s first nature center. Located in Regional Park, it opened on July 28, 2001. It is run by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Education Division. The construction of the center, originally known as the Delta Rivers Nature Center, was funded by a conservation sales tax passed in 1996. The center consists of a 13,000-square-foot main building with exhibits highlighting Delta wildlife and history; it also includes a large meeting facility, a working laboratory, and a nature store. Located outside the main building are two aquariums totaling 22,000 gallons in volume. They display fish and other aquatic species native to the region in a natural setting. …

Great Passion Play

aka: Passion Play
The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is an outdoor drama depicting the last week in the life of Jesus Christ. There was a “soft” media opening on July 14, 1968, followed the next night with the first public performance. More than 7.5 million people from all over the world—an average of 100,000 a year—have attended this tourist attraction, the outdoor play with the largest attendance in the United States. The production includes animals, period costumes, a life-sized city street scene, numerous special effects, original music, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and more than 200 cast members. The Great Passion Play is one of the Five Sacred Projects of the Elna M. Smith Foundation, created by Gerald L. K. Smith and …

Great River Road-Arkansas National Scenic Byway

The Great River Road-Arkansas National Scenic Byway is part of a ten-state driving route along both sides of the Mississippi River, from its headwaters at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. In Eastern Arkansas, the route travels through ten counties that are along the river or historically associated with the river. The route began in 1938 when the Mississippi River Parkway Planning Commission was formed through the urging of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. After more than ten years of discussion, a feasibility study was completed in 1951 by the Bureau of Public Roads (the predecessor of the Federal Highway Administration), and the National Park Service. The study recommended that, rather than constructing a …

Happy Hollow

aka: McLeod's Amusement Park
McLeod’s Amusement Park, more commonly known as Happy Hollow, served as one of Hot Springs’s most popular tourist attractions from the late 1800s until the 1940s. It was located at the head of Fountain Street, just off Central Avenue, and north of Hot Springs Mountain. Photographer Norman McLeod owned and operated Happy Hollow from the time of its founding through 1908. McLeod, who was born in Georgia, became a wanderer after his college days, when he came to Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1888 and established his business. Happy Hollow began as a picture studio. The amusement park complex gradually developed from McLeod’s vision. He owned Happy Hollow until 1908, when he sold the property to Dave Anselberg. T. E. …

Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash

aka: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
When the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash opened in 2014, it became the fourth heritage site established by Arkansas State University (ASU) to preserve the history and culture of eastern Arkansas. The site consists of two main structures in Dyess (Mississippi County): the Dyess Administration Building, located at 110 Center Drive, and the Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, located at 4791 W. County Road 924. The museum allows visitors to explore the construction of one of America’s first and largest New Deal agricultural resettlement colonies, see what it was like to live in the colony, and learn how colony life influenced and helped shape legendary musician Johnny Cash as well as music promoter Gene Williams. The white, …

IQ Zoo

Founded in 1955, the IQ Zoo of Hot Springs (Garland County) allowed visitors to view animals in their natural habitats and watch them perform trained behaviors that showcased the psychological concept known as operant conditioning. The zoo, at 380 Whittington Avenue, became a destination for tourists seeking entertainment but also attracted the attention of companies such as General Mills and Walt Disney Enterprises, which were eager to market the animal performances. The IQ Zoo is the first known attraction of this type, though other tourist attractions have been based on the IQ Zoo model. IQ Zoo founders Keller Breland and Marian Breland met while working under renowned psychologist B. F. Skinner in the early 1940s. During World War II, the Brelands …

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, located in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and named for first lady Janet Huckabee, is one of four nature centers owned and operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). It interprets the natural environment of the Arkansas River Valley, as well as expands upon the mission of the agency, which is to manage the fish and wildlife resources in Arkansas while providing an enjoyable experience for visitors. The 14,000-square-foot nature center is located on 170 acres of land typical of the river valley, along with a twelve-acre manmade lake. The facility features exhibits interpreting the natural history of the area, and nature trails around the property give visitors a first-hand view. …

Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum

The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum is a tourist attraction in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) and the only wax museum in Arkansas. The museum was established in 1971 in the historic Southern Club building at 250 Central Avenue, directly across from the Arlington Hotel and straddling Hot Springs National Park. The museum features over 100 life-size wax figures of real and fictional characters and over thirty scenes, as well as gambling paraphernalia and an exhibit, a gift shop, and a seated 4D virtual reality ride. Josephine Tussaud (1900–1985) was the great-great-granddaughter of Marie Tussaud (1761–1850), a French wax sculptor and founder of the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum of London in 1835, but the establishment in Hot Springs is not …

Kenda Drive-In

The Kenda Drive-In was opened in April 1966 in Marshall (Searcy County) by Kenneth and Marilyn Sanders. The Sanderses were already running the in-door Ken Theatre in downtown Marshall when they decided to build a drive-in theater on six acres on the north side of town. They named the new business the Kenda Drive-In after their daughter. The couple ran both theaters for two years until the Ken Theatre burned in 1968. Kenneth and Marilyn Sanders enlisted the help of their sons, Steve and Bill, and daughter Kenda in running the drive-in—mowing, picking up trash, running the projection booth, and working the concessions. Running seven nights a week with a rotation of as many as four movies per week was …

King of Clubs

Part of an informal network of roadside nightclubs, often called roadhouses, the King of Clubs operated for more than fifty years under the ownership of Bob and Evelyn King until they sold the club in 2003. Located on U.S. Highway 67, just north of Swifton (Jackson County), the club was a familiar stop for some of the most famous pioneers in rock and roll music in the 1950s. These performers traveled constantly, making extra money and promoting their records by playing dances and shows in countless venues in cities, small towns, and in roadhouses such as the King of Clubs, which was especially favored by those who played the more southern form of rock and roll commonly termed rockabilly. Those …