Recreation and Sports

Entries - Entry Category: Recreation and Sports - Starting with P

Parker, Jimmy Dale “Red”

Jimmy “Red” Parker was a football coach at the high school and college levels who was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Parker coached until just weeks before his death in January 2016. In a career that began in 1953 and ended in 2015, Parker’s combined record as a college and high school head coach at six colleges and universities and five high schools was 322–221–13. Jimmy Dale Parker was born on October 26, 1931, to Floyd Parker and Madelyn Parker of Hampton (Calhoun County). He graduated from Rison High School in 1949, where he was a star football player, and attended Arkansas A&M at Monticello (Drew County)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello—where he was …

Parkin Archeological State Park

Parkin Archeological State Park in northeast Arkansas preserves and interprets a Mississippian-period Native American village that existed from approximately AD 1000 to 1550. European-made trade items from the era of Hernando de Soto’s expedition recovered at the park and written descriptions of the village support theories that the Spanish visited the Parkin Site in 1541. Many archeologists believe the site may be Casqui, mentioned prominently in the de Soto journals. Remnants of Indian villages similar to the Parkin Site were once numerous in eastern Arkansas, but soil erosion, careless digging, and farming destroyed virtually all of them during the nineteenth century. The prehistoric village on the eastern bank of the St. Francis River covered about seventeen acres and was enclosed …

Paulette, Gene

Gene Paulette was a professional baseball player whose career totaled six seasons in the major leagues. He played with four clubs: the American League’s St. Louis Browns and the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies. An athlete of average speed and hitting ability, Paulette excelled as a defensive infielder. His time in the major leagues was cut short when, amid game-fixing accusations, he became the first player ever to be banned from baseball. After his career ended, Paulette returned to Arkansas, where he lived the rest of his life. Gene Paulette was born on May 26, 1891, in Centralia, Illinois, to Joseph Paulette and Marguerite DeServe Paulette. Paulette was the eleventh of twelve children born …

Pea Ridge Mule Jump and Show

The Pea Ridge Mule Jump is an annual event held each autumn in Pea Ridge (Benton County). Each year on the second Saturday in October, spectators come from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma to enjoy this unique competition. In 2008, the crowd numbered more than 1,000. Mule jumping events occur mostly in the South. Mule jumping originally began when raccoon hunters taught their mules to jump fences on hunts. The riders dismounted, climbed over the fence, placed a blanket on the fence so the mule could see it, and urged their mules to jump over. The Pea Ridge Mule Jump began when local resident Colonel Negel Hall, along with his friend Don Shockley from Powell, Missouri, set up the event …

Pea Ridge National Military Park

Located near Rogers (Benton County), the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park was created by an act of Congress in 1956. The park, which preserves the battlefield of the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, was dedicated as a national park during the nation’s Civil War Centennial in 1963. Pea Ridge is one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the country. The Pea Ridge National Military Park came into being through the work of several Arkansas congressmen. Representative Clyde T. Ellis of Arkansas’s Third Congressional District began corresponding with the National Park Service in 1939, reviving a proposal to preserve the Pea Ridge battlefield. In 1956, the Arkansas congressional delegation proposed legislation to make Pea Ridge a national military park. …

Petit Jean State Park

The natural beauty of Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean, inspired the creation of the state park system. Situated on Petit Jean Mountain, the park encompasses forests, ravines, streams, springs, vistas, and unusual geological formations. Today, Petit Jean State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Arkansas. Popular legend holds that the mountain got its name from the story of a young French girl who, in the 1700s, disguised herself as a cabin boy so that she could secretly join a company of explorers and accompany her fiancé to the New World. Petit Jean, or “Little John,” became fatally ill while the explorers were visiting the mountain and requested to be buried there. The idea of creating …

Phillips, William Richard (Bill)

Boone County native William Richard (Bill) Phillips was an Arkansas businessman and an All-American football player at Arkansas State University (ASU). His athletic abilities were a major contributor to the school’s 1970 national football championship and led to his induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame twice. Born on February 2, 1949, in Harrison (Boone County), Bill Phillips was one of four children of Earl and Hazel Phillips. He grew up in Harrison, where he attended the local schools. By the time he was in junior high, he had become an accomplished athlete in basketball, track and field, golf, and football. He was a member of the 1967 Arkansas state basketball championship team. His football season was cut short …

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 …

Pine Bluff Film Festival

The Pine Bluff Film Festival was inaugurated in 1994 by local residents who wanted to honor the legacy of the silent film era and help revitalize downtown Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Since that time, the annual event screened silent classics (often accompanied by a symphony orchestra), hosted world-famous guest stars, expanded to two theaters, implemented a silent film competition, and encouraged film and theater restoration. It was hosted each year by two world-renowned cultural experts from New York who were with the festival since its inception. The festival was recognized internationally as one of the oldest silent film festivals in the United States and the only one that regularly presented silent films with full orchestral accompaniment. The festival originated with …

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located in central Arkansas near the northeast corner of the Ouachita Mountains. The park’s namesake is the first prominent cone-shaped mountain encountered by early westward travelers as they emerged from the alluvial plains of east Arkansas. Its cone-like appearance has long beckoned travelers and residents alike to ascend its peak for breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Rising 756 feet from the adjacent flood plains, Pinnacle’s rocky peak reaches an elevation of 1,011 feet above sea level. The cone-shaped peak was first mentioned in the book A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819, written by naturalist Thomas Nuttall. During the colonial and early American periods, the mountain was …

Pippen, Scottie Maurice

Scottie Pippen is one of the most talented and successful athletes from the state of Arkansas. An essential member of the championship Chicago Bulls basketball team from the 1990s, Pippen was in 1996 named one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History.” During his seventeen seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), he participated in the play-offs in all but his last season, was named to the NBA All-Star team seven times, and won six NBA championships, all with the Bulls; Pippen also has won gold medals with two Olympic basketball teams. Scottie Maurice Pippen was born on September 25, 1965, in Hamburg (Ashley County) to Preston and Ethel Pippen, the youngest of their twelve children. Pippen’s father worked …

Pitts, Elijah Eugene

Elijah Eugene Pitts was a football player who grew up in Mayflower (Faulkner County), played at Philander Smith College, and starred for the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl. He was one of the early black stars of the National Football League (NFL) from the segregated South and had a long career as a player and a professional coach. Elijah Pitts was born on February 3, 1938, one of two sons of Samuel and Gertha Pitts, who were sharecroppers on land near Mayflower. Since there was no nearby school for African Americans, he attended the Pine Street School in Conway (Faulkner County), which black children from Conway and surrounding communities attended before the schools were integrated in 1968. …

Plantation Agriculture Museum

The Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) is situated in the Arkansas River lowlands beside Horseshoe Lake, about twenty miles southeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The museum is dedicated to Arkansas’s rich cotton agriculture heritage. William Scott emigrated from Kentucky at an unknown date to the area that would become the town of Scott. His son Conoway Scott Sr. was born in 1815. By 1862, the Scott family owned 2,000 acres, ten slaves, and other property, valued at $37,895. Conoway Scott Sr. died in 1866 just before the birth of his son, Conoway Jr. Conoway Scott Jr. eventually operated several successful ventures, including the family plantation and a general store. Scott’s landholdings were eventually crossed by …

Poison Spring State Park

Location: Ouachita County Size: 85 acres Poison Spring State Park, west of Camden (Ouachita County), commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The Engagement at Poison Spring is remembered as a Confederate ambush of Union troops, which resulted in the massacre of many African Americans from the First Kansas Colored Infantry. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as picnic sites and a short trail. The name Poison Spring was known to Camden area residents at the time of the engagement and was used in battle reports, but its origins are uncertain. Later legends suggested that Union soldiers became ill after drinking the cold spring water, but no contemporary accounts confirm …

Political Animals Club

The Political Animals Club of Little Rock (Pulaski County), an organization consisting of people interested in Arkansas politics, was formed by James L. “Skip” Rutherford in 1983. Rutherford, who has been dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service since 2006, had left the staff of U.S. Senator David Pryor shortly before the formation of the club and moved to the private sector to work for Mack McLarty, chief executive officer at Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co. (Arkla). Rutherford wanted there to be a place for those with a strong interest in politics to gather on an occasional basis and talk about what was going on in Arkansas. He wanted the group to hear from politicians, political consultants, and …

Polk County Possum Club

The Polk County Possum Club (PCPC) began with a challenge issued to local hunters of opossums (commonly called “possums”) in 1913 and henceforth hosted yearly banquets of opossum meat and side dishes until 1947, though it was active again for five years in the 1990s. The PCPC began when attorney J. I. Alley wrote a letter, dated December 11, 1913, to Mena (Polk County) mayor John H. Hamilton that read, in part: “The undersigned has recently seen and heard of much of your boastful conduct and self praise with reference to possum hunting. In fact I learned from reliable sources that you claim great credit to yourself as chief of all such sportsmen in these parts. Therefore believing that others …

Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake

Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake is located near the small community of Casscoe (Arkansas County) approximately twenty miles southeast of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The general purpose of the facility is conservation education, focusing on the bottomland hardwood forests and upland community of forests that surround the center. This is accomplished by introducing various audiences to hands-on outdoor learning activities. The property is recognized as an important wildlife sanctuary, especially for migrating waterfowl. In 1990, the forty-nine nations of the Ramsar Convention (an international treaty for conserving and sustainably utilizing wetlands) recognized the 200-acre Cook’s Lake and its surrounding property as a “wetland of international importance,” representing the diverse natural features of the Cache/Lower White River ecosystems. In 2001, …

Powhatan Historic State Park

Powhatan Historic State Park preserves a small nineteenth-century river port town in Lawrence County, once a hub of northeast Arkansas commerce, industry, and government. Located on the Black River at the juncture of the Ozark Plateau and the Arkansas Delta, Powhatan pioneers had the advantages of easy river access, plentiful resources in the foothills, and fertile land. The first steamboat, the Laurel, arrived around 1829, beginning a series of landings that spanned over 100 years and stimulated civic and regional growth. Footpaths transformed into roads, a river ford into a ferry, and swampy delta into rich farmland, attracting merchants, farmers, and families. In 1837, the settlement name “Powhatan” was selected to honor the Virginia Native American chief, father of Pocahontas. …

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park preserves the site of the Civil War Battle of Prairie Grove in northwest Arkansas. Established in 1908 as a park where old veterans held reunions, it became a state park to help visitors understand the battle and its place in Civil War history as well as how the war changed the lives of the civilians in the Arkansas Ozarks. The Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862, was the last time two major armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. The Confederate army withdrew from Prairie Grove on the night of December 7, leaving Missouri and northwest Arkansas in Federal hands. The battle was actually named after the …

Prock, Clifford John

Clifford John Prock served as head football coach for the Harding University Bisons from 1964 to 1987. At the time of his retirement, he was one of the all-time most successful football coaches in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), with 114 victories. Prock is credited with helping reestablish intercollegiate football at Harding, which resumed play in 1959 after a hiatus of nearly thirty years. John Prock was born on March 13, 1929, in Hollis, Oklahoma, the only child of Alonzo (Lonnie) Prock and Lillie Mae Hooks Prock. His father was a short-run freight hauler; the 1930 Harmon County census described his vocation as a “drayman” (truck driver). His mother was a homemaker. The Procks struggled to survive during …