Recreation and Sports

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

Walker, Hazel Leona

aka: Hazel Walker Crutcher
Recognized as the greatest amateur women’s basketball player of the 1930s and 1940s, eleven-time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-American Hazel Leona Walker was the only woman ever to own, manage, and star for her own professional basketball team. For sixteen seasons, from 1949 to 1965, Hazel Walker’s Arkansas Travelers barnstormed the country playing only men’s teams under men’s rules and winning eighty to eighty-five percent of their games. Hazel Walker was born on August 8, 1914, on her family’s farm near Oak Hill (Little River County), nine miles from Ashdown (Little River County). She was the middle child and only daughter of Herbert S. Walker and Minnie L. Chancey Walker, both Arkansas natives of part Cherokee descent. Walker first played …

War Memorial Park

War Memorial Park is a multi-use park just north of Interstate 630 in the Midtown region of Little Rock (Pulaski County). In November 1911, the Little Rock Parkway Association was formed with the express intent of securing and planning parks for public use. Within six months, it had consolidated with the new Little Rock Playgrounds Association, formed to secure public playgrounds for the city’s children. By 1913, the city had hired Massachusetts architect John Nolen to present a comprehensive system of parkways for the city. The plan was adopted, though never fully realized. However, the area that would become Fair Park presented a new and unique opportunity for the city to capitalize on Nolen’s 1913 plan. This area, called the …

War Memorial Stadium

War Memorial Stadium, built in 1947, is located in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The venue has been home to numerous events, including football games featuring the Razorbacks of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Since its opening in War Memorial Park, the stadium has drawn millions of spectators to central Arkansas and has had a tremendous impact on the local economy. In 1947, the Arkansas state government paid $1.2 million to build the stadium. Architect Bruce R. Anderson designed the venue, which had an original seating capacity of 31,075. The stadium’s first event, a football game between UA and Abilene Christian, was held on September 18, 1948. Before the game, the stadium was formally dedicated by former Razorback and Medal …

Warneke, Lon

Montgomery County native Lon (Lonnie) Warneke, known as the “The Arkansas Hummingbird,” was a major league baseball pitcher and umpire who later served as county judge for Garland County. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1961. Lon Warneke was born on March 28, 1909, to Luke and Belle Warneke in the small farming community of Owley (Montgomery County), about six miles south of Mount Ida (Montgomery County); he had four siblings. Warneke worked on the family farm. He attended the Owley public schools until the ninth grade, when he transferred to Mount Ida. The baseball coach there did not think Warneke was good enough to play on the high school team the first year. However, …

Welcome Centers

aka: Tourist Information Centers
People traveling in or through Arkansas often find assistance at one of the state’s fourteen Welcome Centers. Formerly designated as Tourist Information Centers, these facilities are located at thirteen points alongside major highways near the borders of the state; an additional center is in Little Rock (Pulaski County) at 1 Capitol Mall, which also contains many state government offices. Most of the centers are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the fall and winter and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the spring and summer. They include amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables, as well as displays of brochures and other information about the state and its attractions. The centers are jointly operated by the Arkansas Department …

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 …

Whipple, Win “Skinny”

aka: James Winfield Whipple
James Winfield “Skinny” Whipple of Arkadelphia (Clark County) was a track and field star in high school and college. He set numerous records in the broad jump while at Arkadelphia High School and at Louisiana State University. He set an Arkansas high school long jump record of twenty-four feet, which stood for more than fifty years. Win Whipple was born in Crowley, Louisiana, on September 10, 1915, to Fredrick and Pearl Maxwell Whipple. He had three sisters and two brothers. Shortly after Winfield’s birth, the family moved to Arkadelphia, where his father opened a restaurant. At Arkadelphia High School, Whipple participated in football, basketball, and track and field. Although he trained in all of those areas, the broad jump (now …

White Oak Lake State Park

White Oak Lake State Park in Ouachita and Nevada counties in southwest Arkansas provides access to fishing on White Oak Lake and other recreational opportunities, including camping, picnicking, hiking, and interpretive programs. The lake contains bass, crappie, catfish, and bream, and the park is also rich in wildlife, including great blue herons, egrets, ospreys, green herons, and bald eagles. The land that is now White Oak Lake and White Oak Lake State Park was acquired by the federal government in the 1930s through the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937. This act was intended to assist farmers during the Depression by making it possible for them to own land rather than continuing in tenant arrangements. In 1957, the State of …

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 …

Wiederkehr Weinfest

Wiederkehr Wine Cellar’s Weinfest is one of the oldest and best-attended festivals in western Arkansas. The first Wiederkehr Weinfest was in 1963, and the event continues to be an annual attraction for locals and tourists. Weinfest celebrates the heritage of the Swiss-German immigrants who settled in Wiederkehr Village atop St. Mary’s Mountain near the city of Altus (Franklin County) during the 1880s. Al Wiederkehr, the winery founder’s grandson, initiated the festival after he returned from an oenological (relating to the study of wine and winemaking) research trip to Europe. During his expedition, he traveled to wine- and grape-producing countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and attended a variety of local festivals. When he came home, he realized that having a …

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 …

Williams, J. Mayo “Ink”

J. Mayo “Ink” Williams was the first African-American producer at a major record label and the most successful record producer of music by black performers, particularly blues and jazz, from the 1920s through the 1940s. The son of Daniel and Millie Williams, J. Mayo Williams was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on September 25, 1894. He left Pine Bluff with his mother at age seven after his father was murdered in a shooting at the local railway station. After moving to Monmouth, Illinois, he attended public schools, where he excelled in academics and football. In 1916, he enrolled at Brown University, where he became a star athlete. In the early 1920s, Williams became one of the first black players in the National …

Williams, Sidney Banks, Jr.

Sidney B. Williams Jr. was a pioneering African-American athlete as well as an accomplished businessman and attorney. The first black man to quarterback a Big Ten team when he was at the University of Wisconsin, he later combined his training in chemical engineering with a law degree to become a leading patent attorney. Sidney Banks Williams Jr. was born on December 31, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Sidney B. Williams Sr. and Eloise Gay Williams. He grew up in Little Rock as the only child in a single-parent household, being raised by his mother. Williams graduated from Dunbar High School in 1954. At Dunbar, he was president of the senior class and also starred in football, basketball, and …

Williamson, Corliss Mondari

Corliss Mondari Williamson is a retired National Basketball Association (NBA) player from Russellville (Pope County). During his basketball career, Williamson played for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and helped the Razorbacks win the 1994 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Basketball Championship. Corliss Williamson was born on December 4, 1973, in Russellville, one of two sons of Jerry and Bettye Williamson. During his career at Russellville High School, Williamson earned all-conference and all-state honors three times. During both the 1990–91 and the 1991–92 seasons, Williamson was awarded the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. During his senior year, he averaged twenty-eight points and nine rebounds per game. He also holds the record for most points …

Winder, Ray

Ray Winder was a minor league baseball executive. After learning the ins and outs of the minor league baseball business through a decade of short-term stints with teams in the Southeast, Winder joined the Little Rock Travelers (now the Arkansas Travelers) for good in 1931. By the mid-1940s, he had become one of the team’s owners and was the driving force behind the team for the next twenty years. Ray Winder was born in Indian Springs, Indiana, on February 5, 1885. He moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) with his family in 1905 to run a livery stable. While the stable was the last in the city to close, it was still a dying business, and Winder was forced to …

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 …

Winkles, Bobby Brooks

Bobby Winkles’s career in baseball spanned over four decades. While he never played in the major leagues, he served an often pivotal role in the development of many who did. His influence was felt in the college ranks, where he turned Arizona State University (ASU) into a national powerhouse, as well as in all levels of the professional game, where he served as a coach, manager, front office executive, and broadcaster. Bobby Brooks Winkles was born on March 11, 1930, in Tuckerman (Jackson County) to Clifford Winkles and Devona Brooks Winkles. When he was nine years old, the family moved to Swifton (Jackson County), where he got his early education, graduating from Swifton High School before heading off to college. …

Withrow Springs State Park

Withrow Springs State Park is located approximately five miles north of Huntsville (Madison County) in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. The park was created among scenic mountains and valleys in a wilderness that surrounds the site’s key feature, Withrow Spring. At first, the park was also called Withrow Spring State Park—that name appears in literature from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism as late as the mid-1970s—but common usage has made the name Withrow Springs State Park. The spring, which has a constant temperature of fifty-four degrees, served as a common watering place for area settlers and travelers in the 1800s. No archaeological information reveals whether the spring was used prior to this time. It is named for …

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 …

Witte, Albert Matthew Francis

Albert Witte was a longtime professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) and a one-time president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He also was a central figure in the hiring of Bill Clinton, fresh out of law school, to teach at the university. Albert Matthew Francis Witte was born on October 25, 1923, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Albert M. Witte and Sara E. Witte. He spent most of his youth in Erie, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Erie East High School and in 1942 enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew thirty-five missions as a second lieutenant bombardier with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy during World War II, earning the …

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 …

Wood, Wendy Scholtens

Wendy Scholtens Wood, who later became an attorney in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was one of the greatest women’s basketball players in Arkansas history. Earning All-American honors for her play at both Southside High School in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Vanderbilt University, she also played professional basketball in Japan before pursuing a legal career. Wendy Scholtens was born on June 25, 1969, to John Dennis Scholtens and Carol Anne Scholtens in Geneva, Illinois, where her grandparents lived, but she grew up in Fort Smith, graduating from Southside High School in 1987. While the 6’4″ Scholtens also played volleyball and ran track, it was her basketball skill that truly set her apart. Over the course of her career, she led …

Woolly Hollow State Park

Woolly Hollow State Park, located near Greenbrier (Faulkner County), is unique among Arkansas’s fifty-two state parks because it began as the first scientific study in North America of soil and silt erosion with a specific watershed. Originally built in 1935, the lake and the surrounding area opened as a state park on November 2, 1973. The refurbished Woolly Cabin, the homestead of the family after whom the park is named, still stands in the park about three-quarters of a mile from its original location. Woolly Hollow remains one of Arkansas’s most popular state parks and hosts a number of activities for children and adults each year. In 1851, William Riley Woolly and his family left Waynesboro, Tennessee, to homestead in …

World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig

The World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig is held annually the second week of October in the Mount Ida (Montgomery County) area. According to Montgomery County: Our Heritage, “The Quartz Crystal Festival held October 24, 25 and 26, 1986, was attended by some two thousand residents and tourists from coast to coast.” The event was the idea of Paul G. Griffiths Sr. of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce and Sonny Stanley. The dig is a two-day event with two divisions: crystal points and clusters. The winners keep the crystal they mine and share in $1,500 in prize money. Contestants pay a $75 registration fee and compete in both divisions. On each of the three days of the dig, the …

World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest

The World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest is held every Thanksgiving weekend in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The winner is named the World Champion Duck Caller. To qualify for the contest, a contestant must win a preliminary state or regional duck-calling contest sanctioned by the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce and held in one of thirty-eight states. A preliminary contest is also held in Canada for Canadian residents. The first National Duck Calling Contest was held on Main Street in Stuttgart on November 24, 1936, in connection with the annual Arkansas Rice Carnival. It was sponsored by American Legion Post No. 48. The contest was originated by Thad McCollum of Stuttgart after a dispute broke out among local duck hunters as to who …

World’s Fairs, Arkansas’s Exhibitions at the

In 1876, the United States hosted its first World’s Fair in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: the United States Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. International expositions, or World’s Fairs, emerged from the Great Exposition in London in 1851, which primarily focused on industrial innovation. World’s Fairs in the United States invited participation from each state, with each state funding its own building and displays. Arkansas’s participation in numerous World’s Fairs in the United States presented an opportunity to advertise the state’s accomplishments and promote settlement. While Arkansas participated in a number of World’s Fairs over the years, the most significant expositions occurred around the turn of the century. The Centennial Exposition (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876) …

World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is held in Hot Springs (Garland County), began in 2004 when a group of Hot Springs residents gathered in a pub on the city’s Bridge Street and began musing about ways to capitalize on the fact that the street had been named in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! during the 1950s and 1960s as the world’s shortest street in everyday use. The idea of holding a celebration on the ninety-eight-foot street in the heart of the historic city’s downtown area arose, and the approaching St. Patrick’s Day holiday emerged as an appropriate time to capitalize on Bridge Street’s reputation. The First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held …