Transportation

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Entries - Entry Category: Transportation - Starting with S

Saline County Regional Airport

The Saline County Regional Airport, now located at 1100 Hill Farm Road in Bryant (Saline County), has a history dating back to World War II. Governed by the Saline County Regional Airport Commission, the airport serves hundreds of small-aircraft pilots daily. The airport sits on 1,200 acres of open field located southeast of Bryant, eight miles from Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Saline County Regional Airport features thirty-six T-hangars, ten private hangars, and three large corporate hangars. The first privately owned airstrip in Saline County was built outside Benton (Saline County) by Mike Richards, a used-car dealer and contractor, in 1942. However, Richards’s airstrip was bisected when Highway 67/70 was built in the late 1950s. On March 9, 1958, the …

Schilberg, Richard

Richard Schilberg was an aviation pioneer whose early efforts in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) made him Arkansas’s first acknowledged aircraft manufacturer. Richard Schilberg was born on September 28, 1887, at Canada, Kansas, the son of Gottlieb Schilberg and Juliana Heidt Schilberg. He moved to Stuttgart in 1909 and opened a welding shop, initially specializing in agricultural machinery. He married Gladys Fricker on January 28, 1913. They divorced in 1926 and he married Mable Stilzen in 1927. The couple took their first airplane rides in June 1913, when one of Arkansas’s first aerial exhibitions came to the town. Increasingly interested in flying, he began building aircraft in Stuttgart by 1914, becoming the first major promoter of aviation in the Grand Prairie region. …

Shady Lake CCC Bridges

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

Shreve, Henry Miller

Henry Miller Shreve was a steamboat captain and inventor who is noted for performing much-needed clearance work on America’s major river systems during the first half of the nineteenth century. This work included using his own specially designed snag boat to clear large obstructions from the Arkansas River between Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County), greatly aiding steamboat travel and trade in the state of Arkansas. Henry Shreve was born on October 21, 1785, in Burlington County, New Jersey, to Isaiah Shreve and his second wife, Mary Cokely. He had four half-siblings from his father’s first marriage to Grace Curtis. Henry, the fifth child born to Isaiah and Mary, was barely three when, in 1788, his father …

Silitch, Mary Frances

Mary Frances Files Silitch is the first woman to be editor-in-chief of a national aviation magazine. A licensed pilot, she has flown 250 kinds of aircraft and logged 5,000 hours of flight. Mary Frances Files was born on November 9, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to William Thomas Files and Johnnie Caldwell Files of Parkdale (Ashley County); she has two sisters. Her first flight was in an open-cockpit crop-duster airplane over the family farm at the age of four. She attended schools in Parkdale and Wilmot (Ashley County) but graduated from All Saints Episcopal School in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She attended Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College), where she began her journalism career as the managing editor of the Sou’wester, …

Snag Boats

As American settlers pushed westward following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, their goals of settlement, civilization, and trade were hindered by the hazardous nature of the western rivers. The pioneers found the Mississippi River and its tributaries, such as the Arkansas and Red rivers, filled with obstacles and debris. Snag boats, tasked with the removal of sunken trees and the clearing of the rivers, were one of the first answers to the growing loss of life and property. The navigability of the rivers became a priority to settlers, who believed the future prosperity of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the western frontier, including Arkansas, was acutely tied to the safety of river trade. As western river trade became more important …

South Arkansas Regional Airport

aka: Goodwin Field
The South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field is located eight miles west of El Dorado (Union County). The airport is owned by the municipality of El Dorado and is a mixed-use airport primarily used for general aviation. There has been spotty commercial service in the history of the airport. The airfield was constructed in the early 1940s by the Civil Aeronautics Administration under the auspices of the National Defense airport program. The terminal building was built in 1947. There is minimal evidence that the Army Air Force actually used the airport to a great extent during World War II, despite the construction of it for that purpose. The airport uses two asphalt runways, the longer one (4/22) at 6,601 …

Southwest Trail

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

Springfield–Des Arc Bridge

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

St. Francis National Scenic Byway

The St. Francis Scenic Byway is a twenty-one-mile stretch of road wholly within the St. Francis National Forest linking Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and Marianna (Lee County) and traversing the hilly southern portion of Crowley’s Ridge; it is designated a National Forest Scenic Byway. The route merges Arkansas Highway 44 and Forest Service Road 1900, combining nine miles of pavement and fourteen miles of well-tended gravel. Rambling across national forest lands, this corridor is included in both the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road. The Federal Highway Administration oversees the National Scenic Byways Program, America’s Byways, yet the title “byway” may be bestowed by some 600 byway organizations, both government and private. The National Forest Service initiated its …

St. Joe Historical Missouri and North Arkansas Depot and Museum

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

St. Louis Southwestern Railway

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

St. Louis–San Francisco Railway

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

Steamboats

The steamboat played an important role in Arkansas from the earliest days of the Arkansas Territory. Before being superseded by the railroad in the post–Civil War era, steamboats were the primary means of passenger transport, as well as moving raw materials out of Arkansas and consumer goods into the state. The inland rivers steamboat, invented in the Mississippi River Valley in the first half of the nineteenth century, eventually connected every person on or near a stream to the larger world. The first major historian of the steamboat, Louis Hunter, saw the steamboat as the “most notable achievement of the industrial infancy” of the United States, not to mention the chief technological means by which the frontier advanced and by …

Stinson, Katherine

Katherine Stinson, who was living in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) when she began her career as a stunt pilot, was one of the first female pilots licensed in the United States. She also founded the Stinson School of Flying in Hot Springs (Garland County). Stinson was the first woman to master the loop-the-loop aviation maneuver. She is also reported to have been the first person to perform night skywriting with fireworks. She performed her stunts throughout the country and internationally. Katherine Stinson was born in Fort Payne, Alabama, on February 14, 1891, one of four children; her mother’s name was Emma Stinson. As a young woman, Stinson developed an interest in music and intended to pursue a career as a …

Stuttgart Army Air Field

The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) opened the Stuttgart Army Airfield in October 1942. The airfield was located in Prairie County on approximately 2,682 acres about seven miles north of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The facility consisted of four 5,000-foot runways and facilities for 6,000 personnel. The USAAF trained pilots in the use of gliders from October 1942 to May 1943. This was the second, or advanced, phase of their training, and they learned to fly the WACO CG-4A “Hadrian.” This glider had plywood-covered wings that spanned eighty-three feet and a fabric-covered tube-structure fuselage that was forty-eight feet long. It could carry about thirteen men, or six men and a Jeep, or various other combinations, including ammo, supplies, and weapons. …

Sulphur Rock Street Car

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

Sultana

The Sultana steamboat disaster in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, has been called America’s worst maritime disaster. More people died in the sinking of the riverboat Sultana than on the Titanic. However, for a nation that had just emerged from war and was still reeling from the assassination of President Lincoln, the estimated loss of up to 1,800 soldiers returning home on the Mississippi River was scarcely covered in the national news. The remains of the steamboat are believed to lie buried in Arkansas. Those aboard the boat were mostly Union soldiers from Midwestern states such as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Having been taken prisoners of war, they were sent to the notoriously overcrowded Confederate prisons of …