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Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad

The Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad Company (MO&RR) was the first railroad to begin construction in Arkansas. Chartered in 1852 by John Dockery of Columbia County, the railroad began at Eunice (Chicot County), south of Arkansas City (Desha County), in 1854. At the onset of the Civil War, the railroad was incomplete, extending approximately seven miles south and west from the Mississippi River. Completion of construction and actual operation of the railroad did not occur until well after the Civil War. The road never made a profit and was merged with the Little Rock, Pine Bluff and New Orleans Railroad in 1873. The first articles of incorporation for the MO&RR were filed with the State of Arkansas by John …

Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA)

The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) was a regional carrier that, at its peak, stretched from Joplin, Missouri, to Helena (Phillips County). The railroad was plagued with weather-induced disasters, periods of labor unrest, questionable decisions by absentee managers and owners, unforgiving topography, economic conditions, fires, and bad luck. After the completion of the line, it existed for only four decades. The M&NA was the victim of a territory that could not produce sufficient revenue to support it. It had tough competition from the Missouri Pacific’s two routes through the region and their stronger traffic connections. The railroad was also constructed in a less-than-substantial fashion, which led to its many washouts, floods, and infrastructure failures. The railroad began as a …

Monte Ne Railway

  Monte Ne (Benton County) resort promoter William “Coin” Harvey built the five-mile standard gauge Monte Ne Railway to link the new resort to the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco) main line at Lowell (Benton County). Frisco surveyors laid out the route, and Frisco workers assisted in track construction prior to the June 19, 1902, opening. (Harvey’s fellow “free silver” proponent William Jennings Bryan spoke at the grand opening, but the event was sparsely attended due to heavy rain and a charge to hear the speaker.) The Monte Ne Railway used poor quality fifty-six-pound rail purchased from the Frisco, which, like other big railroads, sold worn-out main line and side track to smaller companies. The Monte Ne Railway shared the depot at …

Museum of Automobiles

The Museum of Automobiles is located atop Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County. This museum is primarily dedicated to the exhibition of quality antique and vintage automobiles, as well as related items for the cultural and educational benefit of the general public. Additional exhibits include an antique gun collection, a display of Arkansas license plates, and a player piano. When Winthrop Rockefeller made Arkansas his home in 1953, he developed Winrock Farms on Petit Jean Mountain. In 1961, he purchased a collection of fine antique and classic cars from the James Melton museum of Hypoluxo, Florida. He had a building constructed on Petit Jean Mountain to house the cars and named it the Museum of Automobiles. He opened the museum …

Narrow Gauge Railroads

Arkansas was home to nine narrow gauge railroads that offered freight and passenger service to the public. The three-foot gauge was most common; a pair of 3½’ gauge railroads later converted to the yard-wide gauge. Arkansas’s narrow gauge mileage peaked at more than 550 miles in the mid-1880s but declined rapidly thereafter. Narrow gauge railroads required less capital because they used narrower right-of-way and followed the terrain closely to minimize the cost of moving earth for cuts and fills. Passenger and freight cars were smaller, lighter, and supposedly more efficient than standard gauge equipment. Narrow gauge steam engines required lighter track and less-expensive bridges. The disadvantage of narrow gauge was a lack of easy freight interchange with the standard gauge …

Nevada County Depot and Museum

The Nevada County Depot and Museum, founded in 1976, is the only museum in Nevada County. Located in the 1912 Iron Mountain Railroad Depot in downtown Prescott (Nevada County), it is a non-profit organization that preserves and promotes the history of Nevada County. In 1968, passenger service from the Prescott Depot was suspended by the successor to the Iron Mountain Railroad, the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The City of Prescott purchased the building and its adjoining parking lots from the Missouri Pacific in 1970 for one dollar. Over the next two years, the building was used for a variety of purposes, but the noise of passing trains soon forced the city simply to use the depot for storage. During the 1972 …

Old Arkansas 51, Curtis to Gum Springs

Old Arkansas 51 is an abandoned highway located in Clark County between the towns of Curtis and Gum Springs. Constructed in 1931, it was replaced by U.S. Highway 67 in 1965. This stretch of highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. The communities of Curtis and Gum Springs were settled in the late nineteenth century, and each served as stops on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The two settlements were connected by roads, which were improved over the decades. The roads evolved from the Southwest Trail, one of the earliest roads in the state. Named Arkansas Highway 51, the road linking the communities became part of the Arkansas Highway System when it was created …

Old River Bridge

The Old River Bridge spans a section of the Saline River at the end of River Street in Benton (Saline County). It is one of the oldest remaining bridges of its kind in the state. The Old River Bridge spans 260 feet and is composed of iron beams, two large trusses, and a wooden platform supported by iron columns. The bridge itself dates back to an act of the Saline County Court, which appropriated $5,000 “for the construction of an iron bridge over the Saline River at the Military Road Crossing” in 1889. Construction was completed in 1891 by Youngstown Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio. The land around it is also important, having been the site of William Lockhart’s settlement …

Old U.S. Highway 67

Highway 67 was one of the original highways included when the Arkansas State Highway System was formed in 1923; it was also one of the first Arkansas highways to be integrated as part of the U.S. highway system in 1925. By the late 1920s, Highway 67 was in need of serious improvement. The Arkansas State Highway commission began a major effort to upgrade and improve Arkansas’s major highways, including Highway 67, through the 1930s. Five sections of the highway and one rest area from this period, as well as a bridge and a rest area, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The route of the highway followed that of the Southwest Trail of the early 1800s, …

Old U.S. Highway 71

Originally constructed over several years in the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. Route 71 began serving as a major thoroughfare in western Arkansas. Bypassed by new construction between the 1950s and 1980s, what is now referred to as Old U.S. Route 71 has six sections listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each section listed on the register continues to carry local traffic in the twenty-first century, which is a testament to the sturdiness of the construction. The various sections of the road were constructed in a similar manner. Made of Bates-type concrete, the road surface includes tan stone mixed with concrete and laid over a wire frame. The road includes nine-foot-wide lanes that are separated by a four-and-a-half-inch-wide gap …

Pig Trail Scenic Byway

The “Pig Trail” is the name of a winding, mountainous byway between Fayetteville (Washington County) and Ozark (Franklin County), one used for decades by students from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville and sports fans. A driver following the route travels on State Highway 16 southeast from Fayetteville just past Greasy Creek in Madison County to a junction called Brashears Switch, then turns right on the southbound State Highway 23 to Ozark and the intersection with U.S. Highway 64—some fifty-two miles. The Pig Trail Scenic Byway is a nineteen-mile stretch of this road located in the heart of the Boston Mountains, running through Ozark National Forest and over the Mulberry River. Today’s traveler is more likely to use the …

Railroads

In the mid-nineteenth century, the newly created state of Arkansas needed an efficient means of transportation to speed its development. Railroads were constructed in order to get goods to markets elsewhere and to bring in new technologies, as well as people to work in and populate the state. The construction of railroads had a significant impact on the state, creating towns where none had existed while all but eliminating others due to their lack of ready rail access. Many of the cities and towns in the state were named after prominent railroad executives who influenced, and in some cases were essential to, these communities’ development. While very little passenger service still exists, many of the same routes are used to …

Roads and Highways

From the creation of Arkansas Territory to present-day Arkansas, road construction has been critical to the development of the state. The construction of roads helped to increase the population of the state in the early years by improving access to areas west of the Delta. The Delta, made up of swamplands, streams, and rivers located in eastern Arkansas, had always been a major obstacle to travel west from the Mississippi River. The earliest routes used for transportation in Arkansas were rivers and creeks due in large part to the number of open waterways in Arkansas and the fact that travel on foot was difficult in swampy areas. These waterways were used by Native Americans and early explorers. Later, Indian trails …

Rock Island Bridge (Little Rock–North Little Rock)

aka: Choctaw Bridge
aka: Clinton Presidential Park Bridge
The Rock Island Bridge is a lift-span bridge crossing the Arkansas River between downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). One of six bridges linking the two downtowns, the Rock Island Bridge was originally constructed as a railroad bridge in 1899; it was converted to serve as a pedestrian bridge in 2011 to complement the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. In late 1898, the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad was organized with the goal of establishing a railroad into the Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). Congress passed legislation authorizing construction of a new bridge across the Arkansas River in January 1899, and the Little Rock Bridge Company formed that May to develop plans for constructing the …

Rock Region Metropolitan Transit Authority

aka: Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA)
The Rock Region Metropolitan Transit Authority (Rock Region METRO), previously the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA), is the largest public transit agency in Arkansas. Rock Region METRO provides public transportation services for the metropolitan Little Rock (Pulaski County) area seven days a week. The twenty-two fixed routes and four express commuter routes provide transportation service to 10,000 riders every weekday. A “demand response” Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) para-transit service operates alongside the fixed route hours and coverage area. A heritage streetcar system called the River Rail System operates approximately 3.4 miles of track throughout downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Prior to the creation of CATA, the public transit system was owned and operated by private …

Shady Lake CCC Bridges

The Shady Lake CCC Bridges were nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A with local significance for their association with the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Polk County. The bridges, completed by crews from Camp Shady in December 1936, were constructed as a part of the Shady Lake Dam project begun in October 1935. The CCC originally developed the area for recreational purposes, and the bridges and road still service numerous camping and picnicking sites around the lake in the twenty-first century. The Shady Lake CCC Bridges were also nominated under Criterion C with local significance as a good example of CCC native-stone bridge construction. These single-span structures are supported by arched, corrugated …

Southwest Trail

The Southwest Trail is a general term referring to a network of routes connecting the mid-Mississippi River Valley (the St. Louis-St. Genevieve area of Missouri) to the Red River valley (northeast Texas) in the nineteenth century. Most of the trail crossed Arkansas from northeast to southwest, entering at Hix’s Ferry (later Pitman’s Ferry) across the Current River in Randolph County and exiting at several crossings of the Red River south and west of Washington (Hempstead County). It followed the edge of the eastern terminus of the Ozark Plateau in northeast Arkansas and of the Ouachita Mountains in central and southwest Arkansas. The trail avoided the swamps, which covered much of eastern Arkansas, while skirting the foothills of the Ozarks and …

Springfield–Des Arc Bridge

aka: Springfield Cadron Bridge
aka: Springfield Bridge
The Springfield Bridge is the oldest bridge in Arkansas, although it has been moved from its original location. It was erected in 1874 across the North Cadron Creek three miles east of Springfield (Conway County) on the Springfield–Des Arc Road. This early thoroughfare connected Des Arc (Prairie County), a thriving port for steamboat traffic on the White River, with Springfield, the county seat of Conway County from 1850 to 1873. Before the bridge was built, C. A. Simmons operated a ferry at the river crossing, charging five cents for a pedestrian, fifteen cents for a person on horseback, or seventy-five cents for a two-horse spring carriage. On November 8, 1871, Conway County awarded a contract to the King Bridge Company …

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 …

St. Joe Historical Missouri and North Arkansas Depot and Museum

The St. Joe Historical Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad Depot and Museum, which is located in St. Joe (Searcy County), is a repository of railroad and local history. It also serves as an area tourist information center. The museum, which opened in May 2011, is housed in the 1902 Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad depot. When the M&NA ended area service in 1946, the depot closed after over forty-three years of operation. Over the next few years, the building was used as a church, to provide classrooms for the local school district, and as a feed store. Once the feed store went out of business, the vacant building began to deteriorate into a community eyesore. A movement to preserve …

St. Louis Southwestern Railway

aka: Cotton Belt
The St. Louis Southwestern Railway began in Tyler, Texas, in 1875. Construction began in Arkansas in 1881. When completed in 1883, the railroad ran diagonally across the state from Texarkana (Miller County) to St. Francis (Clay County). In 1930, the company operated 712 miles of track in Arkansas. The Cotton Belt, as it was better known, would reach its peak mileage in the state in the early 1930s. By the middle to late 1930s, the Great Depression and declining passenger revenue led the railroad to begin abandonment of many of its subsidiary companies and branch lines. Southern Pacific Railroad gained control of the Cotton Belt in 1932 in an effort to gain connections to eastern markets at St. Louis, Missouri, …

St. Louis–San Francisco Railway

aka: Frisco
The St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Co. (SLSF), better known as the Frisco, was organized in 1876 in Missouri. By 1881, the company consisted of a handful of lines concentrated in central and southern Missouri but reaching to Wichita, Kansas; Vinita, Oklahoma; and Fayetteville (Washington County), Arkansas. Although the Frisco never built into the heart of Arkansas, its feeder lines across northwestern and northeastern Arkansas connected communities with other lines across the state as well as the markets throughout the nation, allowing development of agricultural resources, industrial hubs, and resort communities on the periphery of the state. The Frisco was built on remnants of the older Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, acquiring right of way and trackage in Missouri and Indian Territory (present-day …

Sulphur Rock Street Car

The town of Sulphur Rock (Independence County) was the location of the nation’s last mule-drawn (also called bobtail) street car, which ceased operation in 1926. The demise of the street car line was considered so significant that it was commemorated by the United States Postal Service. Sulphur Rock was bypassed by less than a mile when the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad was constructed in 1883. Only very poor roads connected the town to the railroad. To overcome that obstacle, local street car service was provided, with the Sulphur Rock Railway Company building that connection within two to six years after the railroad passed through, according to various sources. The single track from the depot split before it …

Trammel’s Trace

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Americans from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri moved down the Southwest Trail into Arkansas in search of land and opportunity. Crossing Arkansas diagonally from northeast to southwest, the Southwest Trail ended in U.S. territory at the Great Bend of the Red River, where Fulton (Hempstead County) was later founded. From that river crossing, Trammel’s Trace emerged as the first road from Arkansas into Texas from the north, terminating at the El Camino Real in Nacogdoches. Named after Arkansas trader and horse smuggler Nicholas Trammell Jr., the route was a former Indian path that was adopted for smuggling horses as early as 1813. (The spelling of the name of the Trace with one “l” mirrors its …

Trucking Industry

The trucking industry plays a significant role in Arkansas’s agricultural and industrial life. Trucks transport many Arkansas products through and out of the state, including poultry, lumber, sand and gravel, cotton, and farm produce. Trucks also bring necessities and luxuries into Arkansas. Businesses such as Walmart Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. rely on the trucking industry for their survival. Although Arkansas’s location was a detriment to industrial development and the transportation that accompanied industry prior to World War II, several factors have made the state a leader in trucking since the middle of the twentieth century. Large agricultural establishments such as those of the Delta region of Arkansas were not viable in the hills of northwest Arkansas, which resulted in …

U.S. Highway 62

aka: Highway 62
U.S. Highway 62 crosses the northern counties of Arkansas. It passes through eleven counties, from Washington County in the west to Clay County in the east. Some portions of Highway 62 were proposed by William Hope “Coin” Harvey, who wanted to facilitate automobile traffic to his tourist destination, Monte Ne (Benton County). Route U.S. Highway 62 begins in El Paso, Texas, and runs through ten states to Niagara Falls, New York. It is the only east-west highway in the United States that connects Mexico to Canada. The entire length of the highway is 2,245 miles, of which 329.9 miles cross the state of Arkansas. U.S. Highway 62 enters Arkansas from Oklahoma as a two-lane highway. It runs through Summers (Washington …

U.S. Highway 63

U.S. Highway 63 enters Arkansas at Junction City (Union County) and leaves Arkansas at Mammoth Spring (Fulton County). Between these two cities, it also serves Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), West Memphis (Crittenden County), and Jonesboro (Craighead County). Much of the highway is part of the interstate system, including sections of I-530, I-40, I-55, and I-555. Route U.S. Highway 63 extends from Ruston, Louisiana, to Benoit, Wisconsin, a path of 1,286 miles. In Arkansas, it travels through fourteen counties, covering a little more than 400 miles. The highway enters Arkansas in Junction City, a municipality that exists in both Arkansas and Louisiana, making it the southernmost community in Arkansas. The four-lane highway runs concurrently with U.S. Highway 167 from its origin …

U.S. Highway 64

aka: Highway 64
aka: U.S. 64
U.S. Highway 64 crosses the state of Arkansas, connecting Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to West Memphis (Crittenden County). It passes through eleven counties of the state. In western Arkansas, it travels the Arkansas River Valley and parallels Interstate 40; in eastern Arkansas, it transverses the Mississippi River Delta significantly north of the Arkansas River and the interstate highway. Route Highway 64 runs 2,326 miles from Arizona to North Carolina, passing through six states, including Arkansas. Its route covers 246 miles in Arkansas. The highway enters Arkansas as a four-lane bridge over the Arkansas River. It rises over the Harry E. Kelley River Park, Belle Point, and the Fort Smith National Historic Site and continues through Fort Smith as Garrison Avenue. …

U.S. Highway 65

aka: Highway 65
aka: U.S. 65
U.S. Highway 65 is a major north-south corridor in Arkansas. Passing through eleven counties, the highway includes Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Conway (Faulkner County), and Harrison (Boone County) among the cities it serves. Route U.S. Highway 65 begins in Clayton, Louisiana, and crosses Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa before ending in Minnesota. The entire highway is 966 miles, of which 313 miles are in Arkansas. The highway enters Arkansas as a two-lane road in Chicot County not far from the Mississippi River. It runs parallel to the railroad tracks through Eudora (Chicot County), Chicot (Chicot County), and Lake Village (Chicot County), where it widens to four lanes. The highway continues north to McGehee (Desha County) before cutting …

U.S. Highway 67

aka: Highway 67
U.S. Highway 67 stretches from the southwestern corner of Arkansas in Texarkana (Miller County) to the northeastern corner of the state north of Corning (Clay County). It passes through thirteen counties, generally following the course of the military road known as the Southwest Trail, which was established across Arkansas during territorial times. In 2009, the Arkansas General Assembly designated a portion of the road as the Rock ’n’ Roll Highway—a reference to the musical heritage of the road. Route U.S. Highway 67 extends 1,560 miles, beginning in Presidio, Texas, at the border with Mexico, and ending near Sabula, Iowa. The Arkansas portion of the highway is roughly 280 miles. The highway enters Arkansas in the city of Texarkana as a …

U.S. Highway 70

U.S. Highway 70 runs from southwestern Arkansas through Hot Springs (Garland County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County) to West Memphis (Crittenden County). It passes through thirteen counties in Arkansas. Until the completion of Interstate 40, it was the main highway linking Little Rock to Memphis, Tennessee, and it continues to be the principal route bringing travelers to Hot Springs. Route U.S. Highway 70 begins in Globe, Arizona—originally a mining settlement—and runs east 2,385 miles to Atlantic, North Carolina—an unincorporated community on the East Coast. About 280 of those highway miles are in Arkansas. The highway enters Arkansas about eight miles west of De Queen (Sevier County), where it is called the Collin Raye Highway. In De Queen, it runs through …

U.S. Highway 71

In Arkansas, U.S. Highway 71 stretches from the southwestern border of the state south of Kiblah (Miller County) to the northwestern corner north of Bella Vista (Benton County). It passes through nine counties in Arkansas, generally following an alignment of the Ozark Trail. Route U.S. Highway 71 extends 1,532 miles beginning near Krotz Springs, Louisiana, and passes through Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota before ending at the U.S.-Canadian border north of Bemidji, Minnesota. The Arkansas portion is approximately 300 miles. The highway enters Arkansas south of Kiblah as a two-lane highway heading north, passing through Doddridge (Miller County) and Fouke (Miller County) before reaching Texarkana (Miller County). At Texarkana, Highway 71 has a short concurrence with U.S. Highway …

Wallace Bridge

aka: Nimrod Bridge
Constructed in 1908, the Wallace Bridge was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as the best example of a Camelback through truss bridge in the Nimrod (Perry County) vicinity. The bridge was also nominated for its associations with the development of vehicular transportation in Perry County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 2008, it is the last remaining example of this type of bridge in Perry County and one of only three remaining in Arkansas. It is unknown if there was a prior bridge at the current location of the Wallace Bridge. A loss of county records prevents a detailed understanding of the historical locations and types of bridges in Perry County, but at least one …

Winslow Tunnel

In September 1880, the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Company (Frisco) created a railroad subsidiary, the Missouri, Arkansas and Southern Railway of Arkansas. The new subsidiary was authorized “to build in a southerly direction”—likely from Fayetteville (Washington County)—“to some point on the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway, not east of Clarksville, with total mileage of about 55 miles.” The Little Rock and Fort Smith (LR&FS) in 1876 began rail service between Argenta—now North Little Rock (Pulaski County)—and Van Buren (Crawford County). The broad language of the authorization clearly reflected the uncertainty in constructing a railroad line through the Boston Mountains range of the Ozark Mountains, the highest range between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. The range, the highest elevation of …