Attractions (Historic and Current)

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Entries - Entry Category: Attractions (Historic and Current)

Southland Park Gaming and Racing

aka: Southland Greyhound Park
Southland Park Gaming and Racing, formerly known as Southland Greyhound Park, is a gambling and entertainment center in West Memphis (Crittenden County) near the intersection of Interstates 55 and 40. Begun as a dog-racing track, it now includes games of skill such as blackjack and live poker games played with electronic cards along with trivia contests, karaoke, and live music. Southland Park began as a dog track in 1956. It was the only gambling venue in the Mid-South region and drew visitors from several nearby states. The track offered pari-mutuel betting (French for “mutual stake”), a system common to horse racing as well as greyhound racing. In this system, bets are put together in a pool with odds established before …

St. Francis National Scenic Byway

The St. Francis Scenic Byway is a twenty-one-mile stretch of road wholly within the St. Francis National Forest linking Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and Marianna (Lee County) and traversing the hilly southern portion of Crowley’s Ridge; it is designated a National Forest Scenic Byway. The route merges Arkansas Highway 44 and Forest Service Road 1900, combining nine miles of pavement and fourteen miles of well-tended gravel. Rambling across national forest lands, this corridor is included in both the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road. The Federal Highway Administration oversees the National Scenic Byways Program, America’s Byways, yet the title “byway” may be bestowed by some 600 byway organizations, both government and private. The National Forest Service initiated its …

Tourist Camps, Tourist Courts, and Early Motels

Tourist camps and courts were a common form of lodging for travelers in the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s. The terms “tourist camp” and “tourist court” were used to describe both an individual cabin or room rented for the night and the business as a whole. In their early days, they typically consisted of stand-alone structures that looked and functioned like small houses, with as few as four units to rent. Those built during and after World War II were increasingly likely to be under a single roof in the form recognizable today as motels. Unlike earlier hotels that served mostly railroad passengers, tourist camps and courts evolved along roadways to accommodate the needs of the newly …

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

In 1987, Congress created the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (TOTNHT): “a trail consisting of water routes and overland routes traveled by the Cherokee Nation during its removal from ancestral lands in the East to Oklahoma during 1838 and 1839.” The Arkansas portion of this trail originally consisted of two routes of fifty-nine and 337 miles, respfectively, but was expanded in 2009. The TOTNHT is overseen by the National Park Service (NPS), aided by other concerned groups such as the Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears Association, the latter headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1987, the TOTNHT consisted of roughly 2,200 miles but only two paths: a land or northern route (826 miles) and a water …

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing lifetime homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats and other endangered wildlife. With over 450 acres and more than 120 exotic cats, the refuge is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in North America licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The sanctuary is rated a “Must See” attraction by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is one of the most popular destinations in the Eureka Springs area. Don Jackson, a former employee of the Dallas Zoo, along with his wife, Hilda, and their daughter, Tanya Smith, founded the refuge in 1992. After a friend acquired a lion cub and realized …

Vapors

The Vapors was a nightclub in Hot Springs (Garland County) during the last era of illegal gambling in the city. Upscale entertainment in the style of Las Vegas, Nevada—featuring well-known acts like Edgar Bergen, the Smothers Brothers, and Tony Bennett—distinguished it from many of the rival clubs in the area. Dane Harris, who had been a World War II pilot, accumulated money from a stake he had in the Belvedere Country Club and casino during the 1950s and used that money to build the Vapors nightclub. Harris partnered with Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden, owner of the Cotton Club in New York and a noted gangster, to build the nightclub at a site at 315 Park Avenue formerly occupied by the …

West End Park

West End Park was a privately established park in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that opened on May 30, 1885. Created by the Little Rock Street Railway Company, it encompassed a six-block area between 14th and 16th Streets and Park and Jones (formerly Kramer Street). By the late 1920s, much of the land had become the site of what is now Central High School. The park was the last stop for the Ninth Street Line, which took streetcar passengers to 14th Street, where they walked the remainder of the way and entered the park near the spot occupied in the twenty-first century by the Central High School athletic building. The park boasted the largest grandstand in the state, an artificial lake …

Whittington Park Historic District

The Whittington Park Historic District in Hot Springs (Garland County) is located between West Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain in the northwestern part of the city. This historic neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 2012, for its significance in community planning and development, ethnic heritage, and social history. It held an important place in the growth of Hot Springs as a health resort, while also reflecting the contributions of African Americans to the area’s health resort industry and serving as an exemplar of a successful racially diverse, working-class neighborhood. It further holds significance for its array of architectural styles, including Craftsman, Queen Anne, and ranch-style homes, as well as for evidence of the work …

Wildwood Park for the Arts

Wildwood Park for the Arts is a 105-acre botanical garden and arts center. Located at 20919 Denny Road in the Chenal Valley area of western Little Rock (Pulaski County)—about a twenty-minute drive from downtown—the nonprofit organization hosts cultural programming and educational projects along with displaying its scenic woodlands and gardens. The park is open seven days a week with no admission fee except for special events. Providing a peaceful sanctuary of trees, flowers, water, and wildlife, Wildwood has lush gardens and a lake. Its spaces are popular for conferences, corporate events, educational programs, parties, and weddings. Wildwood was the brainchild of Ann Chotard, who was instrumental in founding the Arkansas Opera Theatre (AOT) in 1973. AOT performed at several locations …

William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park

aka: Clinton Library
The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park is located on a thirty-acre city park in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). The center comprises the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, the Clinton School of Public Service, Café 42 (an on-site restaurant), and the Rock Island Railroad Bridge. The Clinton Museum Store, also part of the center and managed by the Clinton Foundation, is in the lobby of the Clinton Library. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is maintained, managed, and staffed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 provided that presidents may raise funds for building their libraries with no cost to the …

Wingmead

Wingmead, a farming operation south of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) on State Highway 33, has long been recognized as one of the nation’s foremost duck-hunting clubs. Wingmead was established in 1937 by Edgar Monsanto Queeny, son of John Francis Queeny, who founded Monsanto Chemical Co. Wingmead is a word of Scottish origin that means “meadow of wings.” Edgar Queeny served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and then earned a chemistry degree from Cornell University in 1919. He married Ethel Schneider after graduation and began working for Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri. He became a vice president of the company in 1924 and Monsanto’s president in 1928. By the time Queeny retired from Monsanto in 1960, it had …

Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, whose mission is introducing the public to the importance of conservation education in Arkansas, is the fourth nature center established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The center opened on December 17, 2008, and is funded by the Amendment 75 Conservation Sales Tax, allowing the center to provide free admission. Covering almost three and a half acres of land within the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park in the River Market District in Little Rock (Pulaski County), it is located along the Arkansas River Trail between the First Security Amphitheater and the Interstate 30 Arkansas River bridge. Permanent exhibits include large indoor aquariums filled with native fish from several of Arkansas’s natural …

Wonderland Cave

Wonderland Cave is a natural underground cavern in Bella Vista (Benton County) about a mile east of U.S. 71 up Dartmoor Road, near Cooper Elementary School. Clarence Andrew (C. A.) Linebarger, general manager of the resort of Bella Vista, developed it as a tourist attraction and place for local entertainment, opening it on March 1, 1930. The cave was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1988. About 300 feet into the cave from the entrance is a large, naturally vaulted chamber with a concrete floor. That is where dances were held for decades, with an alcove for a ten- to twelve-piece band, a thirty-foot bar at the opposite end, and wooden and stone booths around …