Transportation

Entries - Entry Category: Transportation

American Airlines Flight 1420

American Airlines Flight 1420 departed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on June 1, 1999, en route to what is now Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As the aircraft landed, it ran off the end of the runway and broke apart. Ten passengers and the pilot died in the crash or from injuries suffered in the event. The aircraft involved in the crash was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82. At the time of the incident, the plane had 49,136 flight hours and 27,103 cycles (take-offs and landings). On the aircraft at the time of the crash were two flight crew members, four flight attendants, and 139 passengers. The flight originated in Chicago, Illinois, flying to Salt Lake …

Amtrak

Amtrak, with a name derived from the words “America” and “track,” is a partially government-funded American passenger rail service. Its parent enterprise is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Amtrak was created in 1970 to provide medium- and long-distance intercity service through the consolidation of existing U.S. passenger rail companies. Sharing track with freight trains, Amtrak officially took over most U.S. interstate passenger rail service on May 1, 1971. However, Amtrak’s regular passenger rail service did not begin to serve Arkansas until 1974, when service on the Inter-American train was extended northward from Fort Worth, Texas, to St. Louis, Missouri. Amtrak is the most recent phase in America’s passenger railroad history, in which Arkansas has played a significant part. From the …

Arkadelphia City [Steamboat]

The Arkadelphia City was a Ouachita River steamboat that suffered a disastrous boiler explosion on April 25, 1863, that killed six people. The Arkadelphia City was a fifty-three-ton sternwheel paddleboat built by Tennison, Britton & Carpenter at New Albany, Indiana, in 1859 for the Arkadelphia Home Packet Company, using machinery salvaged from the steamer Joe Jakes. Owned by Captain T. R. Tennyson and Captain M. S. Carpenter, the vessel “was run regularly on the Ouachita River” under the command of Captain W. A. Britton. On April 25, 1863, the Arkadelphia City was steaming on the Ouachita River near DeCeipher Shoals about twelve miles below Arkadelphia (Clark County) when it was “blown to pieces…by the bursting of her boilers.” The vessel’s …

Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC)

aka: Aerospace Education Center
Located near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (Adams Field), the Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC) provided the state with aerospace education through the Workforce Development Center of University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. The center, which was owned by the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society, also housed the state’s only IMAX theater and a library that held the Jay Miller Aviation Collection of aerospace materials. When fundraising began, the center was intended to include a magnet school, a library of aerospace materials, a museum, and an IMAX movie theater. Before the center’s completion, however, the Little Rock School District decided not to build an aerospace magnet school at the center. Another feature, to be called the Arkansas High Technology Training Center, also …

Arkansas Air Museum

“Promoting Aviation by Preserving the Past” is the mission statement of the Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County). The museum was Arkansas’s first museum dedicated entirely to aviation history. Located in a hangar at Fayetteville’s Drake Field, the museum occupies the oldest aviation-related structure still standing in northwest Arkansas. The hangar was constructed during World War II. Because of wartime resource limitations, Henry George, Fayetteville’s engineering assistant, developed the hangar out of wood, with construction starting on May 1, 1943. As well as designing the hangar, George worked as plumber, electrician, and welder on the project. At no time did the project employ more than four carpenters, three helpers, and George. Total cost for building the hangar was around …

Arkansas and Oklahoma Western Railroad

The Arkansas and Oklahoma Western Railroad (A&OW), based in Rogers (Benton County), was incorporated on June 25, 1907, with capital stock of $3,000,000. The standard gauge railroad, previously named the Rogers Southwestern, had twenty-one miles of track built between Rogers and Springtown (Benton County) by the Rogers Southwestern Railroad. The change in the corporate name reflected an intention to build to Siloam Springs (Benton County), as a connection to the Kansas City Southern Railway, and Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, as a connection to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway. The A&OW also announced plans for a thirty-mile extension from Rogers to the health resort of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The A&OW, assuming it had been built as planned, would have been …

Arkansas Department of Transportation

The Arkansas Department of Transportation oversees the planning, maintenance, and policing of state roads and highways. Act 302 of 1913 established the State Highway Commission and renamed the Department of State Lands as the Department of State Lands, Highways and Improvements. However, there remained no designated highway system in the state. In 1921, a federal law required states to designate a system of state highways, to be managed by a state highway department. In 1923, a few months following the closure of the Department of State Lands, Highways and Improvements due to the Arkansas General Assembly’s failure to appropriate money for the agency, the governor called a special session of the legislature to deal with the resulting problems, eventually signing …

Arkansas Division of Aeronautics (ADA)

The Arkansas Division of Aeronautics (ADA) is responsible for regulating aviation in the state of Arkansas as well as encouraging the development of aeronautics-related industries. The Arkansas Division of Aeronautics was created as the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics by Act 457 of 1941, which established the agency for a period of twenty-five years, to be headed by a commission consisting of the chairperson of the State Police Commission, the adjutant general of the State of Arkansas, the chairperson of the State Penal Board, the chairperson of the State Highway Commission, and the head of the ADA. The duties, as defined by the act, consisted of providing for the examination, rating, and licensing of airports; adopting rules and regulations for airports …

Arkansas Highway 1

Stretching from the Missouri border in the north to McGehee (Desha County), Arkansas Highway 1 spans almost 160 miles in the eastern part of the state. Part of the original state highway system, the roadway continues to be an important route in the Delta. The highway originated from a number of local roads constructed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A 1916 state road map includes several sections of the future highway, but most of the route does not yet appear. With the establishment of the state highway system in 1923, much of the route appeared on the official map. Improvements to the road over the decades brought Arkansas Highway 1 to modern standards while continuing to follow much …

Arkansas Highway 57 Bridge

The Arkansas Highway 57 Bridge crosses railroad tracks in Stephens (Ouachita County). Constructed in 1928, the bridge is a Warren pony truss with a pedestrian walkway located on the outside of the superstructure. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2005. Once used for vehicular traffic, it later became a pedestrian bridge. Stephens was founded as a stop on the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway. The St. Louis Southwestern Railway, also known as the Cotton Belt, took control of the line after 1882. With a 160-acre plot to construct a settlement, the owners of the rail line convinced several business owners in nearby Richland (Ouachita County) to move to the new settlement in …

Arkansas Highway 7

Stretching almost the entirety of the state from south to north, Arkansas Highway 7 crosses eleven counties and measures more than 208 miles. The highway begins at the Arkansas border with Louisiana near the settlement of Lockhart. It is a continuation of Louisiana State Highway 558. The two-lane road crosses into Union County and merges with U.S. Highway 167 south of El Dorado (Union County). The two roads form a concurrency bypass to the northern edge of the city where Highway 7 continues in a northwestern direction to Smackover (Union County). A multi-lane roadway for this portion, the highway crosses into Ouachita County near Louann (Ouachita County) before it enters Camden (Ouachita County). At the interchange with U.S. Highway 79, …

Arkansas Highway Commission

In the early part of the twentieth century, Arkansas’s roads were not designed for the arrival of the automobile. The state’s roads were rough and dusty in dry weather, and were impassable during the rainy season. There was no statewide authority to plan or direct road construction in Arkansas, so road construction was handled at the local level, with county courts in charge of road planning and construction. Most roads were built to serve specific neighborhoods or even individuals, and a connected statewide system of roads was far from a reality. These issues came to a head in 1913 in the Thirty-ninth Arkansas General Assembly, which created the State Highway Commission by Act 302 in response to these transportation issues. …

Arkansas Highway Police

The Arkansas Highway Police is the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in Arkansas and serves as the law enforcement branch of the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The duties of the agency have changed over time, but the emphasis remains on protection of the state’s highway and transportation system. The Highway Police is overseen by an agency director with the rank of chief. The chief serves at the pleasure of the director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The Highway Police’s main headquarters are located in Little Rock (Pulaski County) next to the central office of the Department of Transportation. The Highway Police is divided into five districts, each of which is commanded by an officer with the rank of captain. …

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM) in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is home to Arkansas’s only historic naval vessel open to the public for tours, the USS Razorback (SS 394). It also includes a U.S. Navy tugboat, the USS Hoga. The museum also offers a small research library and a number of permanent and rotating exhibits on submarines and naval history. Hearing of the Razorback’s approaching decommission, a group of submarine veterans initiated an effort to return the submarine to the United States. They approached Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock in 2002 about the possibility of docking the Razorback in Arkansas. At that time, the city was already working to acquire the Hoga, a tugboat present at …

Arkansas Railroad Museum

The Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) grew out of an effort by the Cotton Belt Historical Society to preserve the last steam-powered locomotive built in Arkansas. It has since expanded to include other artifacts of Arkansas’s railroad heritage. The Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society, Inc., was organized on October 18, 1983, primarily for the purpose of saving the Cotton Belt steam locomotive SSW 819, a 4-8-4 Northern-type steam locomotive that was the last steam-powered locomotive constructed in Arkansas. The locomotive had been retired and donated to the City of Pine Bluff in 1955, when machines of its type were being replaced by diesel-burning locomotives. It was placed in a city park, later called the Martin Luther King …

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River originates high in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains near Leadville, Colorado, and it ends in eastern Arkansas at the confluence with the Mississippi River where the town of Napoleon (Desha County) once stood. The river is 1,460 miles long and flows across three states before making its way into Arkansas. The Arkansas River is the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri river system, the sixth-longest river in the United States, and the forty-fifth-longest river in the world. Three major cities are situated along the banks of this river that drains nearly 160,500 square miles of land: Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Significance to Arkansas The Arkansas River, flowing east and southeast across …

Arkansas Traveler [Steamboat]

The Arkansas Traveler was a steamboat that sank after hitting a snag in the Arkansas River below Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on March 21, 1860, killing a passenger. The Arkansas Traveler was a 170-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in 1856 in New Albany, Indiana. Owned by Captain Albert Thomas, who ran the vessel, and Captain James Timms (or Timmons), the steamboat regularly carried passengers and cargo between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The steamboat was heading up the Arkansas River on the night of March 21, 1860, carrying a cargo “said to be the largest ever taken from New Orleans into Arkansas river,” including 200 barrels of sugar and 800 sacks of salt, when it struck a snag …

Arkansas Waterways Commission

The Arkansas Waterways Commission was established by Act 242 of 1967, and its powers and duties were amended by Act 414 of 1973. It became a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce in 2019. The mission of the Arkansas Waterways Commission is to develop, promote, and protect the commercially navigable waterways of Arkansas for waterborne transportation and to promote economic development to benefit the people of Arkansas. The navigable waterways in Arkansas include the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Red, and Ouachita rivers. The Arkansas Waterways Commission is composed of seven commissioners appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Arkansas Senate. Each commissioner serves a seven-year term. Five of the commissioners represent five navigable stream basin areas …

Arkansas Western Railroad

Beginning in 1896, the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern) arrived in Heavener, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Three years later, the Arkansas Western Railroad Company was incorporated in Arkansas in order to build a thirty-two-mile extension into Arkansas from Heavener to Waldron (Scott County). On October 1, 1901, an engine arrived in Waldron pulling fourteen carloads of steel rails that would finish the track. In 1904, the Kansas City Southern (KCS) organized the Arkansas Western Railway Company, and the Arkansas Western Railroad became a KCS subsidiary. Advertisements soon began running in local newspapers with a “Through Train” schedule. Beginning on July 24, 1904, passengers were able to board a train in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) …

Arkansas Wing, Civil Air Patrol

The Arkansas Wing is one of the fifty-two chapters—including all the states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia—that make up the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is the civilian volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The Civil Air Patrol was formed on December 1, 1941, for the purpose of conducting emergency service operations including search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster relief missions. Today, the CAP continues to perform those duties, as well as educating the public and its members about the value of aerospace and operating a cadet program for youth leadership development. In late 1941, Arkansas pilots foresaw the need to form an aviation unit to take the place of the Arkansas National Guard’s 154th Observation …

Arkansas, Steamboats Named

At least twenty nineteenth-century steamboats were called Arkansas or a derivative of the state’s name, according to information in the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Way’s Packet Directory. One of these steamboats famously sank on state waters in 1844. The earliest known Arkansas was a sidewheel steamboat built in 1818. Little is known about it, but the Arkansas Gazette wrote about it on December 29, 1821, in an article about four companies of the U.S. Seventh Infantry passing by on the steamboat Courier, adding that “the remaining two companies were detained at Grand Point in consequence of the steam-boat Arkansas, on board of which they had been embarked, having burst a …

Aviation

Aviation history in Arkansas includes one pioneer inventor, a few attempts at commercial airplane production, a regional commuter airline, a now-national air freight company, and varying degrees of impact on the state’s communities. By the 1970s, aviation had become essential both for business use and for personal travel. Balloons and Dirigibles Balloon ascensions became popular throughout the United States in the 1850s, and balloons also figured in the Civil War, though none were deployed in Arkansas. There was an ascension in Yell County in 1879, and in 1902, balloonist Charles Geary came to Baxter County to perform, along with “Professor” Murgle, who demonstrated the parachute. Balloon production was apparently limited to the Hot Springs Airship Company of Joel Troutt Rice …

B-25 Bomber Crash of 1948

During a period of about three months in the winter of 1947 and 1948, Arkansas was the site of the crash of two military planes on routine flights. On November 17, 1947, a B-25 crashed into Mount Magazine in Logan County, and on February 6, 1948, a B-25 crashed into Round Top Mountain near Jasper (Newton County). A total of eleven people died in the two crashes, with five dying in the 1948 crash. On February 6, 1948, a B-25 bomber lifted off from Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, en route to Little Rock (Pulaski County). The plane was scheduled to land in Little Rock a little after 8:00 p.m. When it did not arrive, calls were put out to …

B. M. Runyan [Steamboat]

The steamboat B. M. Runyan was carrying a regiment of Union soldiers when it struck a snag in the Mississippi River off Chicot County on July 21, 1864, and sank, killing as many as 150 people. The B. M. Runyan was a sidewheel paddleboat built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1858 for Captain James Miller and his partners, who intended to use it for runs between Cincinnati and New Orleans, Louisiana. A Mr. Mitchell of Alton, Illinois, bought the Runyan in June 1862 for voyages between Alton and St. Louis, Missouri. The vessel sank in shallow waters below Alton that December and was raised and sent to St. Louis for repairs. Returned to service in 1864, the B. M. Runyan again …

Baring Cross Bridge

The Baring Cross Bridge is located in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) over the Arkansas River at river mile 166.2. It is the western-most bridge of the six bridges spanning the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The first Baring Cross Bridge, the first bridge built across the Arkansas River, opened in 1873. In the 1850s and 1860s, the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company (C&F) developed two divisions north and south of the Arkansas River. Before the bridge was constructed, the railroad company used ferries to transport equipment, people, animals and commercial freight across the river. Ferries, however, were slow and had a limited amount of cargo space, which caused frequent backups in service. Also, cargo was lost in ferry …

Bart Tully [Steamboat]

The Bart Tully was a steam towboat that abruptly sank on the Mississippi River near Osceola (Mississippi County) on September 3, 1922; a crew member drowned in the disaster. The Bart Tully, hailed as “one of the best towboats of her size on the Mississippi,” was built at Dubuque, Iowa, in 1891. Originally called the Joy Patton, the Tully was owned by the Patton-Tully Transportation Company in 1922 and was engaged in hauling loads of logs on the Mississippi River. At around 6:30 a.m. on September 3, 1922, the vessel, which had a crew of fourteen men and two women who cooked for them, was near Craighead Point about eleven miles south of Osceola when it “suddenly turned over and …

Batesville Regional Airport

The Batesville Regional Airport is located on Highway 167 (Batesville Boulevard) in the town of Southside (Independence County), about four miles south of Batesville, the county seat of Independence County. The City of Batesville owns the airport, which is a public-use general aviation airport averaging ninety-five aircraft operations per day (approximately six percent of which are military). The airport and hangars accommodate light general aviation aircraft of all sizes, including small jets. In 2015, the airport had more than fifty based aircraft and employed seventy-two people. The economic impact of the airport on Batesville and Independence County—including on motels, restaurants, transportation businesses, and the poultry industry—has been estimated by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics to be approximately $5,486,400 annually. The …

Bauxite and Northern Railroad

The Bauxite and Northern Railroad (B&N) is a short, three-mile railway built in 1906 by a subsidiary of Alcoa called the American Bauxite Company in what is now Bauxite (Saline County). The B&N transports hundreds of tons of alumina, a key ingredient in the production of aluminum, from the former Alcoa processing plant to Bauxite Junction, where the B&N connects with the Union Pacific. In 2012, the Bauxite and Northern Railroad and its parent company at the time, RailAmerica, Inc., were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Bauxite deposits were discovered outside Little Rock (Pulaski County) during road construction in 1887 and were publicly identified by State Geologist John C. Branner in 1891. In 1900, Colonel John Rison Gibbons and …

Beebe, Roswell

Roswell Beebe was the first benefactor of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the town of Beebe (White County) was named after him. In the late 1840s and the 1850s, he was one of the most important businessmen and politicians in Little Rock. He donated several pieces of land to the city. Roswell Beebe was born on December 22, 1795, in Hinsdale, New York, to a wealthy English family. When he was seventeen, he talked his father into letting him go to New Orleans, Louisiana. He was behind the cotton bales with Andrew Jackson when the United States turned back the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Roswell was successful in several businesses. The 1832 New …

Belle Zane [Steamboat]

The Belle Zane was a sternwheel river packet that struck a snag on the Mississippi River about twelve miles below the mouth of the White River on the night of December 18–19, 1845. As many as fifty passengers and crew members perished in the accident. The Belle Zane was a 128-ton sternwheel steam packet built in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1844, described as a fast-running and light draught steamer, drawing only twenty-three inches. While the vessel normally ran a route between Zanesville, Marietta, and Cincinnati, Ohio, the Belle Zane set out on December 18, 1845, for a run to New Orleans, Louisiana, carrying a cargo of flour, corn, oats, beans, and potatoes and around 125 passengers and crew. The vessel, commanded …

Ben Laney Bridge

The Ben Laney Bridge is located in Camden (Ouachita County). Spanning the Ouachita River, the bridge carries traffic from U.S. Highway 79 Business and Arkansas Highway 7. The bridge, which was constructed in 1947, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 9, 2000. Camden’s early economy was directly tied to its location as the head of practical navigation on the Ouachita River. As the major commercial center in southern Arkansas, it needed reliable infrastructure in order to continue to grow. However, the city did not have a bridge over the river for decades and, instead, utilized a ferry. During the Camden Expedition of 1864, a pontoon bridge was used by the Union army, while Confederate forces …

Big Dam Bridge

The Big Dam Bridge, which opened to the public in 2006, is a walking, running, and bicycling bridge constructed over the Murray Lock and Dam No. 7 of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division, it attracts thousands of tourists and exercise enthusiasts to central Arkansas annually. It spans the Arkansas River to connect Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Corps of Engineers managed the construction while not using corps monies; instead, it supervised local, state, and federal funds to build the bridge to connect exercise trails through the Arkansas River Trail and 70,000 acres of adjacent public parkland. Pulaski County Judge Floyd G. …

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 …

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (formerly Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field), located two miles east of downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the south side of the Arkansas River, is a mixed-use airport with both commercial and private airplanes, as well as a military presence. It has the largest amount of scheduled commercial service in the state of Arkansas and serves more than two million passengers annually. Little Rock’s first airport, operated by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, opened in 1917 as the Little Rock Intermediate Air Depot. This small airfield expanded in 1926 due to the growing needs of the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard. In 1928, the first aircraft manufacturing business arrived on …

Black River Bridge (Historic)

The Black River Bridge is the name given to a historic bridge spanning the Black River in Randolph County. Built as part of U.S. Highway 67, the Black River Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 9, 1990, and maintained by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The Pocahontas (Randolph County) section of Highway 67 opened in February 1931. The confluence of Highways 90 and 115 with U.S. Highway 67 in Pocahontas required a bridge to provide for safe travel across the Black River. To begin the construction of a bridge, the State Highway Commission needed federal approval through the U.S. Congress and through the War Department. This approval was set in place to ensure that …

Blakely Mountain Dam

aka: Blakely Dam
aka: Lake Ouachita
Blakely Mountain Dam, located approximately ten miles northwest of Hot Springs (Garland County), was created to provide hydroelectric power and to control flooding along the Ouachita River. It impounds Lake Ouachita, the largest lake completely within the state of Arkansas at over 40,000 acres. In 1870, the U.S. Congress authorized a survey of the Ouachita River to investigate improving its navigability and preventing floods along its course. However, nothing was done until the 1920s, when Harvey Couch and his company, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), began searching for sites for hydroelectric dams along the Ouachita River. AP&L built Remmel Dam and Carpenter Dam, which were in place by the early 1930s. Plans for a third, larger dam were announced in …

Blue Star Memorial Highways

Markers for Blue Star Memorial Highways, which honor members of the armed forces, are located along highways across the United States, including several examples in Arkansas. Members of the National Council of State Garden Clubs envisioned creating “living memorials” for members of the armed services who served during World War II, rather than monuments or buildings. The first Blue Star roadway was established in New Jersey in 1945 following work completed the previous year. A five-and-a-half-mile section of road was named Blue Star Drive, and dogwood trees were planted along the road. The state legislature designated the roadway a memorial and banned the posting of billboards along the route. The project was well received and approved by the National Council …

Bobby Hopper Tunnel

Arkansas has seven railroad tunnels but only one highway tunnel. Named for the Arkansas Highway Commission director at the time of the tunnel’s construction, Bobby Hopper, the northwest Arkansas commission representative from Springdale (Washington County), the Bobby Hopper Tunnel is located on Interstate 49 in Washington County just north of the Crawford County line with its closest exit at Winslow (Washington County). U.S. Highway 71, once classified by Reader’s Digest as “one of the most dangerous highways in America,” includes a perilous stretch between Alma (Crawford County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) through the Ozark Plateau. Thus, construction of an alternate route was designed to make the trip safer, as well as reduce travel time. Approved in 1987 and completed in …

Boone County Regional Airport

The Boone County Regional Airport is located three miles outside of Harrison (Boone County). The airport is a mixed-use airport, with the majority of usage coming from general aviation. It is estimated that, in 2015, the airport provided 120 jobs and had an economic impact of over $12 million to the local economy. The first flight to what is now the Boone County Regional Airport was in 1921. It was flown by Earl Rowland, a local flying legend. He was a World War I pilot, a test pilot for Cessna Aircraft, a member of the World War II Air Transport Command, and winner of five national air races. Although his landing in Harrison in 1921 inaugurated aviation to the area, …

Brandywine [Steamboat]

The Brandywine was a steamboat that caught fire in early April 1832, resulting in a significant loss of life among its passengers. The wreckage became the core of an island that the changing course of the Mississippi River eventually left on the Arkansas side of the channel east of Turrell (Crittenden County). The 483-ton steamboat Brandywine left New Orleans, Louisiana, at 5:00 p.m. on April 3, 1832, with a full load of cargo and 145 passengers and crew members, bound for Louisville, Kentucky. When it was about thirty miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, on the evening of April 9, pilot Benjamin T. Head discovered that several carriage wheels and parts that had been packed in straw for transport had caught …

Bridge Street Bridge

The Bridge Street Bridge is a multi-span reinforced-concrete deck girder bridge that spans the former St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) and St. Louis–San Francisco Railroad (Frisco) rail lines in Jonesboro (Craighead County). It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 10, 2020. Although the Bridge Street Bridge was not the first bridge at this location, it was a large improvement over the iron and wooden bridge that formerly spanned the rail line. During the late 1920s and 1930s, the Arkansas Highway Commission embarked on a large-scale campaign to upgrade the state’s roads. As a result, many miles of roads were paved or rebuilt, and many bridges were built. It was a well-traveled route, as it …

Bridges

At the time Arkansas became a territory, most water crossings were fords. When travelers came to a body of water such as a small river or stream, they would look for the shallowest place and cross there. Generally, these fords were adequate for the small number of early travelers in the territory. But as the population of the state slowly grew and a system of military roads was developed, it became necessary to bridge larger bodies of water to make travel faster and easier for the military and the local population. The first attempts at bridge-building in Arkansas were by private individuals. These individuals applied for a franchise to build a toll bridge, which was granted by the territorial legislature. …

Broadway Bridge

The Broadway Bridge was originally constructed in 1923 as a vehicular structure and replaced in 2017; it is one of six bridges linking the downtown areas of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). As the downtown areas of Little Rock and Argenta (present-day North Little Rock) developed in the 1880s, it became apparent that a toll-free bridge independent of the railroad bridges across the Arkansas River was needed. Some people supported the idea of a bridge at the foot of Little Rock’s Main Street, while others thought it should start at Broadway. After years of debate and a series of bridge commissions, the Main Street site was adopted, and the Groton Bridge Company of Groton, New …

Buffalo River Bridge

aka: Pruitt Bridge
Formerly located in Newton County north of Jasper (Newton County), the Buffalo River Bridge spanned its eponymous stream. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 9, 1990. The historic bridge was torn down in 2021 after a replacement bridge was constructed to the east; it was removed from the National Register on January 3, 2022. The area along the Buffalo River where the bridge was located is known as Pruitt (Newton County). The site of the Buffalo River Bridge was occupied by another bridge in 1931 when discussions began about replacing it. Although the bridge present at that time was not dilapidated, engineers requested that a three-ton limit be placed on the structure. Engineers at …

Bull Shoals Dam and Lake

Bull Shoals Dam site is located on the White River about ten miles west of Mountain Home (Baxter County), where the river divides Baxter and Marion counties. The site is named after its location at a shoal (a shallow and swift reach of river), borrowing from the French “Boill,” meaning a large spring. Private power companies had explored the possibility of building a dam at Wildcat Shoals above Cotter (Baxter County) as early as 1902 but never began any work toward it. Congress approved the construction of six reservoirs in the White River Basin in the Flood Control Act of 1938. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report in 1930 had recommended the Wildcat Shoals site along with seven others …

Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company

aka: Overland Mail Company
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Though only running from 1858 through 1861, it was the longest stagecoach line in world history at approximately 2,812 miles and was a major factor in the settlement and development of Arkansas and the American West before the Civil War. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Many sites in Arkansas, such as Butterfield Trails Village in Fayetteville (Washington County), still reflect the era of Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. Before modern technology, the mail was America’s lifeblood. “Post roads” were created in the …

C-130 Crash of 1970

A C-130 cargo plane flying from Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) caught fire in mid-air and crashed near Piggott (Clay County) on July 30, 1970, killing all six men aboard. The Air Force C-130 Hercules took off at 3:46 p.m. on July 30, 1970, carrying two men based at LRAFB and four from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas who were deployed to Jacksonville for training. Something went wrong during the routine training flight, and the aircraft crashed about a mile west of Piggott. A witness said the Hercules was on fire and one wing fell off before it hit the ground. One of the plane’s engines landed in the driveway of a home near …

C-130 Crash of 1971

Ten U.S. Air Force personnel were killed in a disastrous takeoff crash at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) on the morning of November 12, 1971, in the worst accident ever to occur at the base. With Captain James B. Raycraft, age twenty-six, as the pilot, the C-130E Hercules taxied down the runway carrying four instructors and seven trainees on a planned flight to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where they would “drop a 6,000 pound load module in a simulated combat drop” as the air force personnel prepared for duty in Southeast Asia. The C-130 had traveled about 8,000 feet down the 12,000-foot runway and had reached an altitude of about 200 feet when it abruptly veered to …

Cache River

The Cache River arises near the Arkansas-Missouri border at the confluence of a few agricultural ditches and flows south-southwesterly through Arkansas until it empties into the White River just east of Clarendon (Monroe County). Though it is not a major transportation corridor, the Cache River has nonetheless had an important place in Arkansas history, especially in debates about environmental conservation. The town of Cash (Craighead County) takes its name from the river. The Cache River was an important water resource for prehistoric Native Americans; for instance, important Indian mound sites connected to the Plum Bayou culture lie within the Cache River floodplain. These early peoples could exploit the variety of natural resources provided by the river and surrounding area, which was …

Caddo River

The Caddo River of west-central Arkansas is known widely as the Natural State’s premier family float stream. This scenic river is named after the Caddo Indians who settled the Ouachita Mountain drainage area. Since that time, many generations have settled, explored, and enjoyed this watercourse. This spring fed Ouachita Mountain stream offers something for everyone. Visitors to the Caddo can experience diverse recreational opportunity in a safe, easily accessible, natural setting. For centuries, this unique waterway has carved its way through sedimentary rock formations, creating a broad shallow river valley and leaving miles of gravel along its path. In some places, the nearly vertical beds of sandstone and novaculite create rapids and water gaps. The Caddo, known for extremely clear …