Entries - Entry Category: Recreation

Aesthetic Club

The Aesthetic Club is one of the oldest women’s clubs west of the Mississippi River. It began when a group of young women wishing to start a reading club organized on January 16, 1883, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Aesthetic Club founders Cynthia Polk, Sallie Martin, Ida Martin, Fannie Jabine, Jane Georgine Woodruff, Mary Knapp, Gertrude Hempstead, Harriet Jabine, and Virginia Hamilton immediately expanded their objectives “to present programs of a literary, artistic, musical, and timely trend” in order to “assist in educational uplift, and to bring its members together for social enjoyment.” The name, proposed by Knapp, was borrowed from the Aesthetic Movement, which was “emulous of cultivating ‘the beautiful’ in all things.” Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s comments on …

Albert Pike Memorial Temple

  The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700–724 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another …

Arkansas Apple Festival

The Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln (Washington County), held the first weekend of October, has been a feature of life in northwest Arkansas since 1976. The goal of the festival is to call attention to the value of the area’s apple crop and the history behind it. At one time, Arkansas’s largest apple orchard was outside Lincoln. Established traditions at the festival include live music (generally bluegrass and country); square dancing; an arts and crafts fair; and a parade that includes local organizations, politicians and elected officials, antique automobiles and tractors, and local riding clubs. Extremely popular are the free samples of apple cider and apple slices given away throughout the festival. The Apple Festival features two beauty contests: the …

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT)

aka: State Parks
aka: Arkansas State Parks
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) manages the state’s fifty-two state parks and promotes the state of Arkansas as a tourist destination for people around the country. The department is composed of three divisions: 1) Arkansas Tourism, which promotes tourism and economic development in the state, 2) Arkansas State Parks, which develops and manages the actual state parks, and 3), Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which promotes keeping Arkansas litter-free. Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park, was established in 1923 after the passage of Act 276, which authorized the commissioner of state lands to accept land donations for state parks and reservations. However, the state did not have an agency overseeing the development of state parks until 1927, …

Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is the most lucrative thoroughbred horse race in Arkansas, currently offering a “purse” of $1 million. The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing in the race, based upon their finish, with the winner receiving sixty percent ($600,000). The one-and-one-eighth-mile race is restricted to horses that are three years old. It is traditionally held each year at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County) on the second Saturday of April. Over time, it has developed into one of the nation’s leading preparatory races for the Triple Crown, which comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The Arkansas Derby was first held in 1936 and carried a $5,000 purse. The …

Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was created to honor Arkansans who have made outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. Honorees include performers, non-performing contributors (such as writers, directors, and producers), and pioneers in the entertainment industry. In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the establishment of a museum honoring Arkansans who have made a considerable contribution to the entertainment industry. The first inductees were honored in 1996. The following year, the state legislature transferred the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the Department of Parks and Tourism, along with $300,000. Several cities competed to host the museum. Pine Bluff was eventually chosen, with the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau receiving $250,000 to establish …

Arkansas Folk Festival

The annual Arkansas Folk Festival takes place on the third weekend in April in Mountain View (Stone County). Held since 1963, the event attracts thousands of people to the small mountain community, where the livelihood of many residents is based on tourism. The town has become nationally renowned for its folk music, and the downtown area is a popular place for impromptu “pickins” as musicians gather informally to perform. The Arkansas Folk Festival has its roots in the Stone County Folkways Festival held in 1941, celebrating the musical heritage of the area. Musical performances and a jig dance contest were among events held at the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area. World War II prevented subsequent gatherings at the time, but the …

Arkansas Heritage Trails System

The Arkansas Heritage Trails System is a network of driving tours created by the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT), and Arkansas Department of Transportation to mark the approximate routes through Arkansas of the Trail of Tears, Southwest Trail, Butterfield Overland Mail Route, and Civil War campaigns. The Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly mandated the development of a trails system through Act 728 of 2009, the Heritage Trails System Act. The act called for the system to include the Butterfield Overland Mail Company route, which included routes from the Missouri state line near Pea Ridge (Benton County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and from Memphis, Tennessee, to Fort Smith; the Southwest Trail from the Missouri border …

Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources

The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources houses exhibits that tell the story of oil and bromine production in southern Arkansas, with particular attention given to the historic oil boom that began in the 1920s. The center also interprets the history of these resources from the beginning of the oil’s creation eons ago through modern times. In the 1920s, nationwide attention focused on this area when the Smackover oil field was ranked first among the nation’s oil fields with a yearly production of sixty-nine million barrels in 1925. In 1925, during south Arkansas’s oil boom, the forty-square-mile Smackover oil field was the focal point of one of the fastest mineral booms in North America, with 1,000 wells drilled in the first six …

Arkansas Post Museum State Park

Arkansas Post Museum State Park in southeast Arkansas displays exhibits and artifacts and presents programs about Arkansas Post—the first permanent European settlement in the state—and life in the state’s Delta region, including the Grand Prairie. It succeeded Arkansas Post State Park, which was transferred to the National Park Service in 1964 for creation of the Arkansas Post National Memorial. The museum complex is located at the junction of Highways 165 and 169. The Arkansas Post State Park Commission, established by Legislative Act 57 of 1929, acquired sixty-two acres that had been occupied by Arkansas Post when it became the capital of Arkansas Territory in 1819, when the territory was established. At the time of the park’s creation, there were no …

Arkansas Post National Memorial

Arkansas Post National Memorial is a unit of the National Park Service located in southern Arkansas County near Gillett. It preserves and interprets the remains of the original European and Native American settlements on the Arkansas River, as well as the Civil War battle fought at the post and the countless people who once resided in the area. Arkansas Post was settled by French traders in 1686 and was the first permanent European colony in the Mississippi River Valley. A Quapaw Indian village called Osotouy was located nearby. The actual post was moved several times over the years due to flooding but remained in the same general area. The only battle of the American Revolution that was fought in Arkansas …

Arkansas Rice Festival

The Arkansas Rice Festival, held during the second weekend of October in Weiner (Poinsett County), was founded to promote the consumption of Arkansas rice and to celebrate Arkansas’s status as the number-one rice-producing state in the nation. It coincides with National Rice Promotion Month and the final days of the rice harvest in Arkansas. In 1976, a rice-tasting and rice-farming history exhibit was organized as part of the state’s contribution to the country’s bicentennial commemoration. The success of the event inspired a group of local citizens to plan a two-day festival. The Arkansas Rice Festival Board was formed in 1977 and officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Nine board members, including rice industry representatives, millers, farmers, and financial officers, served …

Arkansas River Visitor Center

The Arkansas River Visitor Center, dedicated on August 20, 1985, was designed to acquaint visitors with the Arkansas River, its history and culture, and its transformation into the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The visitor center is located in Russellville (Pope County) on Lock and Dam Road, three miles west of Highway 7. The visitor center was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, at the site of the Russellville Project Office. It overlooks the Dardanelle Lock and Dam and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Russellville Project Office. The Dardanelle Lock and Dam was a logical choice for the center as it is located near the mid-point of the navigation …

Arkansas Scottish Festival

The Arkansas Scottish Festival is held every April on the campus of Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County). It began as the Ozark Scottish Festival in 1981 at what was then known as Arkansas College. The festival has grown significantly and evolved over the years but remains emblematic of the college and its Presbyterian roots. The Arkansas Scottish Festival is now known as one of the premier Scottish festivals in the southern United States. Established by Dr. Ralph Graham during his tenure as vice president of institutional advancement, the festival was initially held on the athletic field in conjunction with homecoming but was later moved to April. Over time, it attracted more and more participants from all over the country. …

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST) in Conway (Faulkner County) is Arkansas’s only professional Shakespeare theater company and is based at the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). Its mission is to enrich the community of central Arkansas through creating professional productions of William Shakespeare’s works and making them accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The AST was founded on December 1, 2006. The main catalyst behind the creation of the theater was Rollin Potter, who became dean of Fine Arts at UCA in 2004 and had previously served as professor of music and founding director of the School of the Arts at California State University at Sacramento. Potter appreciated the important …

Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show

aka: Arkansas State Fair
The Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show (usually just called the Arkansas State Fair) is an annual event sponsored by the Arkansas Livestock Show Association and held in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The fair features a midway/carnival, music concerts, a rodeo, commercial exhibits and displays, free shows (from exotic animals to acrobats and magicians), arts and crafts competitions and exhibits, food competitions and demonstrations, and various livestock competitions. It runs for ten days, usually in October, starting on a Friday and running through two weekends, ending on a Sunday night. The current Arkansas State Fair began in 1938, but there had been several other efforts over the years to establish a state fair. On November 6, 1867, the Arkansas State …

Arkansas Unit, Herb Society of America, Inc. (AU-HSA)

The Arkansas Unit of The Herb Society of America (AU-HSA), founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1966, has approximately forty members spread from the Little Rock area throughout the state. Its logo incorporates a cotton boll, symbolizing the regional historic importance of this herbal plant. AU-HSA is dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community, and it lives up to this mission partly through its three gardens. The Territorial Medicinal Garden at the Historic Arkansas Museum features plants used in Arkansas’s territorial days, such as boneset, ground ivy, garlic, native senna, pokeweed, and selfheal, as researched by Mary Worthen. The Garden of Exploration …

Bathhouse Row

Bathhouse Row Historic District extends along the foot of the mountain that gives rise to the thermal springs in Hot Springs National Park. Located in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), the scene is dominated by the most recent of a succession of bathing buildings dating back to 1830. Bathhouse Row includes eight surviving bathhouses: the Hale, Maurice, Buckstaff, Fordyce, Superior, Quapaw, Ozark, and Lamar. The landscape features sculptured fountains, water displays, and the Grand Promenade. Bathhouse Row has become the architectural core for downtown Hot Springs. History The first structures in the area to take advantage of the thermal springs were likely the sweat lodges of local Native Americans, which were followed by an unplanned conglomeration of buildings subject to …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Big River Crossing

aka: Harahan Bridge
The Harahan Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River to connect Memphis, Tennessee, with West Memphis (Crittenden County), was built in 1916 as a two-track railroad bridge and converted in 2016 to add a bicycle and pedestrian pathway, replacing one of the old abandoned auto roadways; the structure was renamed Big River Crossing. The Union Pacific Railroad owns the bridge and agreed to add the pathway, which was financed with a federal grant. The new pathway connects Main Street in Memphis to the Delta Regional River Park on the Arkansas side and to the Big River Trail. After completion, the Big River Trail, for use by pedestrians and bikers, will extend from the head waters of the river to the Gulf …

Biking

aka: Cycling
Arkansas is home to numerous dirt roads and trails for mountain biking, as well as paved paths and scenic highways for road biking, with nearly year-round use. The state hosts a number of noteworthy tours and competitions for all kinds of bicycling and for all levels of ability. Arkansas has a very popular series of mountain bike races for both experts and beginners through the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship (AMBC) Series. Some of the better known are the Attila the Hun and the Womble (Trail) Mountain Bike Classic. Another popular mountain bike trail is the Syllamo trail system north of Mountain View (Stone County), with fifty miles of mostly single-track (wide enough for one bicycle) biking. A trail system at …

Birdwatching

aka: Birding
Birdwatching, also commonly called birding, is the hobby of observing wild birds. Involvement in the pursuit ranges from enjoying birds on backyard feeders to traveling thousands of miles, nationally or internationally, to see new and different species. Birdwatching is usually considered to be distinct from ornithology, which is the scientific study of birds, although there is considerable overlap between the two. Birdwatchers often keep records of when and where they saw different species. Many people keep records simply for the personal satisfaction of remembering interesting and unusual sightings. Records kept by amateur birdwatchers, however, have made significant contributions to ornithology by helping with the knowledge of bird distribution and abundance. Most birdwatchers keep a life list—a record of all the …

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness

The Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. At an elevation of 2,403 feet, the east-west-oriented Black Fork Mountain, formed by a geologic uplift, features rock screes, or flows. The large rock flows, sometimes called “glaciers,” and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The U.S. Congress designated 13,139 acres as the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness in 1984. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas (Arkansas has approximately 8,350 acres, while Oklahoma has approximately 4,789 acres), this area contains the thirteen-mile-long rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. In both states, the ridge rises to …

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns (BSC) is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, fifteen miles northwest of Mountain View (Stone County). The only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Three guided tours through the caves are open to the public: the Dripstone Trail (open all year), the Discovery Trail (open during the summer), and the Wild Cave (open by special reservation). The limestone rock from which the cave developed was formed by fossilized sediment from sea creatures at the bottom of an ancient inland sea estimated to exist about 350–500 million years ago. When …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Boyle Park

Boyle Park was created when John F. Boyle (1874–1938) donated a 231-acre tract of land in the southwestern area of the city to the City of Little Rock in 1929. The park was later expanded to include 243 acres. The park begins at 26th Street and Boyle Park Road, and Rock Creek runs through the park. In the deed, Boyle stipulated that the land was to be allocated for recreational use. If the property ever ceased to be used as a park, the title of the land would revert back to the Boyle family. Boyle Park was the third of its kind in the city. It was preceded by MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Allsopp Park …

Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival

The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival celebrates the pink tomato industry in southeastern Arkansas. Originally a one-day event, it has become a weeklong celebration that attracts approximately 30,000 people each year. In June 1956, the first Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival was held in Warren (Bradley County). Loran Johnson, who was director of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, was one of the founders of the festival. The one-day event included musicians, a carnival, and exhibits. Each year, a chairperson of the festival was chosen. A parade and beauty pageant were added the second year. Another festival event began after Jean Frisby, who was the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) home economist for Bradley County, and Loran Johnson, who …

Bull Shoals-White River State Park

Arkansas’s seventh state park, Bull Shoals-White River State Park, is near Mountain Home (Baxter County) in northeast Arkansas on the White River, one of the nation’s premier trout-fishing streams, and Bull Shoals Lake, one of the region’s major man-made lakes. The site was adopted into the state park system in 1955 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake by constructing Bull Shoals Dam on the White River. Bull Shoals was named by early French hunters and trappers who used the word “Boill,” meaning a large spring, to describe the area. Edmund Jennings, the first English-speaking person to visit the “Six Bulls” country, lived among the Indians for fifteen years before returning to his home state of Tennessee. …

Cabotfest

CabotFest, an annual celebration hosted by the city of Cabot (Lonoke County), was first held in 1978 to commemorate the city’s recovery from a devastating tornado that struck in the spring of 1976. Since its founding, the festival has become Lonoke County’s largest, attracting thousands of visitors each year. On March 29, 1976, five citizens of Cabot died in an early afternoon tornado that also destroyed a large portion of the business sector. As the town neared complete recovery, local officials decided to organize a celebration for the fall of 1978. Committees, under the direction of local banker James M. Park, organized the event and chose the phrase “Cabot, We’re Back” as the festival theme. It was decided that the …

Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center

The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center, which was formally dedicated on April 12, 2014, occupies two of the oldest surviving buildings in downtown Calico Rock (Izard County): the E. N. Rand Building (built in 1903) and the Bluff City Bank Building (built in 1896). The museum foundation also owns the 1906 Calico Rock Progress Building, which houses a café and ice cream parlor. While the museum preserves and displays the art and history of the community, it also has a contract with the City of Calico Rock to provide visitor center services. In 2007, a group of interested citizens formed the Calico Rock Organization for Revitalization Efforts (CORE) and began searching for a location to establish a museum to …

Camden Daffodil Festival

The Camden Daffodil Festival originated from a move to raise money for the restoration of a historic building in Camden (Ouachita County) and has become a means of promoting tourism in the area. The profits from the festival are donated to the community to promote tourism and help sustain the McCollum-Chidester House, which was built in 1847. It is today a museum maintained by the Ouachita County Historical Society. The Camden Daffodil Festival was started in 1994 by Dennis and Roxane Daniel as a result of a group of women motivated to help raise enough money to restore the old, dilapidated Missouri Pacific Train Depot and turn it into a historical site that would house the Camden Area Chamber of …

Camp Joyzelle

Camp Joyzelle was a summer camp for girls that operated for nearly three decades at Monte Ne (Benton County). Summer camps emerged in the late 1800s as a way to provide urban youngsters with wholesome, outdoor activities during the long summer vacation. Summer camping for girls became popular after World War I. Some camps were run by organizations such as the Girl Scouts, while others were similar to private schools and served mostly well-to-do families. Camp Joyzelle was a typical example of the latter. The camp was founded by Iris Armstrong, who at the time had a private dramatic academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Armstrong’s goal was to start a camp at which girls could be instructed in drama …

Camp Ouachita National Historic District

Camp Ouachita was the hearthstone for outdoor- and social-skills development and a path through adolescence for two generations of Arkansas Girl Scouts who seasonally camped there between 1937 and 1979. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal New Deal agency, constructed Camp Ouachita from 1936 to 1940 for the Little Rock Area Girl Scout Council (LRGSC) in the Ouachita National Forest, twelve miles south of Perryville (Perry County) and some thirty-six miles west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Camp Ouachita, the nation’s only surviving WPA-constructed Girl Scout camp complex, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The camp is currently undergoing renovation. Prior to Camp Ouachita, the LRGSC had only limited, seasonal use of the Boy Scouts’ Camp …

Cane Creek State Park

Cane Creek State Park in southeast Arkansas occupies an environmentally significant setting on the border of two of the state’s geographic regions, the flat Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta) and the rolling West Gulf Coastal Plain. Located on the shore of Cane Creek Lake, the park provides for recreational activities that include camping, picnicking, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching. The park, a joint project of state and federal agencies, grew out of a 1973 proposal by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) to develop a lake and park near Star City (Lincoln County) to enhance recreational opportunities in southeast Arkansas, although legislation authorizing the creation of the park had passed two years earlier. The state parks department entered …

Centennial Celebration

Arkansas’s centennial preparations launched early, expanded rapidly to a galaxy committee, descended into financial uncertainties, burst into various celebrations crisscrossing the state, and finally rested on the laurels of an improved, culturally positive image. Officially held on June 15, 1936, the celebration commemorated the date President Andrew Jackson signed legislation making Arkansas the twenty-fifth state in the Union. Observances before and after the formal day included the composition of an official song and poem, the designation of a centennial flower, the issuance of a stamp, the crowning of a centennial queen, and the minting of two coins. There were also plays, parades, pageants, floats, contests, and exhibits, as well as a football championship, a visit by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, …

Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Network (CAREN)

The Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Net (CAREN) is the oldest of several amateur radio clubs in the central Arkansas area. CAREN’s focus is on providing public service event support and emergency communications. To facilitate these services, CAREN operates VHF/UHF radio repeater sites throughout the central region of the state. Ham radio operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 97 (Amateur Radio Service), after passing an examination for one of several classes of license. The Amateur Radio Service has five main purposes: 1) providing emergency communications as a noncommercial service, 2) advancing the radio art, 3) advancing communications and technical skills, 4) expanding a pool of trained operators, …

Chi Omega

Chi Omega, the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world, was founded at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) on April 5, 1895. As of 2012, more than 300,000 women have been initiated into Chi Omega. The national headquarters are in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), UA, and Arkansas State University (ASU) had Chi Omega chapters, and there were sixteen alumnae chapters in Arkansas. Contrary to popular usage, Chi Omega has always referred to itself as a fraternity rather than a sorority. The first members, referred to as the Five Founders, included Ina May Boles, Jobelle Holcombe, Alice Simonds, Jean Vincenheller, and Dr. Charles Richardson, a Fayetteville dentist and a …

Clinton Birthplace

aka: President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
aka: Bill Clinton Birthplace
William Jefferson Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, lived the first four years of his life in his grandparents’ home at 117 South Hervey Street in Hope (Hempstead County). Since June 1997, known as the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, has been open to the public as a museum. The house was built in 1917 for Dr. H. S. Garrett, who evidently designed the house to imitate his previous dwelling in France. The two-and-a-half-story, 2,100-square-foot building contains six rooms, including a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and the nursery where Clinton slept. The house was purchased in 1938 by Eldridge Cassidy and Edith Grisham Cassidy, Clinton’s grandparents. Their daughter, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, made her home …

Community Theatre

The Community Theatre in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is one of the oldest one-screen, nickelodeon-type theaters in Arkansas, complete with a soundproof room where mothers could take their crying children and continue to watch the movie. The renovated structure is now owned and operated by a local non-profit agency and was used for part of the Pine Bluff Film Festival. Pine Bluff’s Community Theatre first opened its doors in 1922 in what was once known as the Breckinridge Building. The building was completed in 1889 and owned by local congressman and minister to Russia Clifton Rodes Breckinridge. Contractor William I. Hilliard built the Breckinridge Building, as well as the Jefferson County Courthouse (1890). S & H Kress & Co., a …

Conway Cemetery State Park

Conway Cemetery State Park, near Walnut Hill (Lafayette County) in southwest Arkansas, preserves a half-acre cemetery containing the grave of the state’s first governor, James Sevier Conway. It is the second-smallest Arkansas state park. Conway was governor of Arkansas from 1836 to 1840 and a member of “The Family,” a powerful dynasty that dominated early Arkansas politics. During his tenure in office, he was responsible for a budget surplus and many of the state’s initial institutions, including roads, a prison system, and a state bank. An advocate of education, he unsuccessfully requested that the Arkansas General Assembly use the budget surplus to create a public school system and state university. The economic depression of 1837 collapsed the banking system and …

Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area

The Cossatot River State Park–Natural Area conserves a twelve-and-one-half-mile stretch of the Cossatot River, a southwest Arkansas stream included by the legislature in the state’s Natural and Scenic Rivers System. The National Park Service has designated the Cossatot’s upper reaches as a National Wild and Scenic River. The upper Cossatot is free of impoundments, and its shoreline is largely primitive and undeveloped. Within the park, there are over thirty rare plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the Ouachita Mountains. The idea of establishing a natural area along the upper Cossatot surfaced in 1974, shortly after the Arkansas Environmental Preservation Commission was created. The panel was subsequently renamed the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. In October 1975, its …

Crater of Diamonds State Park

Located on State Highway 301 in Pike County, the Crater of Diamonds State Park contains the world’s only diamond mine that is open to the public. John Wesley Huddleston, a farmer and sometime prospector, first found diamonds on the site in 1906. Huddleston’s discovery sparked a diamond rush in Pike County. Diamond-bearing soil was also found on Millard M. Mauney’s property that was adjacent to Huddleston’s. Prospectors and fortune hunters rushed to the area, and soon the town of Kimberly developed to accommodate the influx of people. Within a few years of the discovery, all the land on top of Prairie Creek Pipe was in the hands of two rival companies, Arkansas Diamond Company and Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation. The …

Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) by the Eureka Springs Investment Company, the president of which was former governor Powell Clayton. The organization purchased twenty-seven acres of wooded land for the site of the hotel and hired Isaac S. Taylor from St. Louis, Missouri, as architect for the project. The massive eighteen-inch-thick stones used for the body of the hotel were made of limestone, hand-carved from a quarry on the White River near Beaver (Carroll County) by a crew of Irish workers. These stones were hauled to the site of the hotel by trains and specially constructed wagons, and were placed in such a fashion that no mortar was needed. The hotel boasted every …

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, National Scenic Byway

As Arkansas’s first National Scenic Byway, Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, merges six U.S. highways, nine Arkansas highways, and 11.5 miles of well-maintained gravel road through a national forest to track the crest of Crowley’s Ridge, the sole geographical phenomenon ridge formation in North America and one of only two similar geological ridge formations in the world (the other being in Siberia). The parkway stretches 198 miles over a half million acres in Arkansas, encompassing eight counties and eleven communities from St. Francis (Clay County) to Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). An additional 14.2 miles run through Missouri. As one of Arkansas’s three national byways—the other two being Talimena Scenic Byway and the Great River Road—Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is one of the 126 …

Crowley’s Ridge State Park

Crowley’s Ridge State Park in northeast Arkansas is a recreationally oriented park with a rich social and geological history. The park, situated on land that was homesteaded by nineteenth-century pioneer Benjamin F. Crowley, also preserves the structures built by young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. Arriving on the scene in 1820, Crowley was the first prominent white settler in the region. He selected the site for his plantation home because of the upland terrain and a spring, which continues to flow today. Crowley, a veteran of the War of 1812, became an acknowledged leader in northeast Arkansas and strongly supported the creation of Greene County on November 5, 1833. He died in 1842 at age …

Daisy State Park

Daisy State Park is situated on the northern shoreline of 7,000-acre Lake Greeson in southwest Arkansas. The clear water and Ouachita Mountains scenery make the park a favorite of campers seeking water sports and fishing. Daisy is the eighth state park established in Arkansas. Lake Greeson was created in 1950 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed a dam on the Little Missouri River some six miles north of Murfreesboro (Pike County). The lake was created for flood control and hydroelectric power generation. The land for Daisy State Park, consisting of 272 acres, was acquired by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 22, 1955. Former state representative Pete Austin, a lifetime resident of Pike …

Davidsonville Historic State Park

Davidsonville Historic State Park is a 163-acre park located on the Black River in southern Randolph County. The park preserves the site of the town of Davidsonville, which housed the first postal stop, the first courthouse building and county seat of Lawrence County, and the first federal land office in what is now the state of Arkansas. The town was created from a few log cabins in 1815, when the Act of Lawrence County was written; it was briefly known as the town of Lawrence. Strangely, this town of “firsts” was also the first county seat to be bypassed by a major road connecting Missouri to the Great Southwest. By 1829, Davidsonville had lost the courthouse to Jackson and the …

DeGray Lake Resort State Park

DeGray Lake Resort State Park, located in southwest Arkansas, features a ninety-four-room lodge, an eighteen-hole championship golf course, a full service marina, a convention center, tennis courts, and a pool. It is the state’s only resort state park. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing DeGray Lake (1963–1972) by damming the Caddo River, support grew within the State Parks Division and surrounding communities for developing along the 13,400-acre lake a state park to rival resort state parks in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas. The Corps and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism reached an agreement in November 1971 for the construction and management of a resort and recreation area on the lake’s north shore. Effective May 1, 1972, …

Delta Heritage Trail State Park

The Delta Heritage Trail State Park is being developed in phases along seventy-three miles of abandoned Union Pacific Railroad right of way through Phillips, Arkansas, and Desha counties in eastern Arkansas. The trail project starts one mile south of Lexa (Phillips County) and goes to Cypress Bend (Desha County). In early 1991, as part of the “rails-to-trails” provision of the National Trails System Act, which preserves rail corridors by reclaiming land along abandoned railroads for recreational use, the Union Pacific Railroad notified the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism of the potential track abandonment. Under the act, which is funded by the Department of the Interior, railroad companies can transfer all rights and liabilities connected to a rail corridor to …

Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium is an annual conference sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The symposium welcomes multidisciplinary submissions and presentations dealing with the Mississippi Delta region; of particular interest are submissions that engage the question of the Delta’s culture, arts, and lifestyles, and their effect upon the blues. The Delta Symposium was created in 1994 as a conference that would appeal to both the general public and the academic community. First organized under the name of the Delta Studies Symposium, this changed when it became evident that the genre of the blues offered the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary topic for exploration. A committee composed of faculty members of …