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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 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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

Cambridge [Steamboat]

The steamboat Cambridge was carrying a regiment of Confederate soldiers on the White River when it struck a snag and sank near Grand Glaise (Jackson County) on February 23, 1862. The Cambridge was a 242-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in 1856 for Captain William Dean, who ran it on a route going from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cincinnati, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri. Around January 1862, Captain John Williams bought the Cambridge for $7,000, operating out of Memphis, Tennessee. The Cambridge became a troop transport by coincidence. Colonel G. W. LeMoyne had assembled his Seventeenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment (CS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was preparing to go to Pocahontas (Randolph County) when a measles outbreak struck the Confederate troops. LeMoyne …

Car of Commerce [Steamboat]

The Car of Commerce was a steamboat that burst a boiler north of Osceola (Mississippi County) on May 14, 1828, killing at least twenty-one passengers and crew members. While heading from New Orleans, Louisiana, to St. Louis, Missouri, an engineer on the Car of Commerce shut down the vessel’s engines briefly around 10:00 a.m. on May 14, 1828, at an area on the Mississippi River known as the Canadian Reach, to examine the force pump. Moments after the engines were restarted, one of the boilers burst, “moving from their place in a forward direction every boiler, the greater part of the water being thrown to the upper deck, several of the deck passengers, and the greater part of the crew …

Caroline [Steamboat]

The Caroline was a steamboat that caught fire while traveling up the White River on March 5, 1854, and sank, with forty-five passengers and crew members losing their lives in the disaster. The Caroline was a 150-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1853. The vessel was 134 feet long and twenty-four feet wide with a draft of 3.5 feet. The Caroline left Memphis, Tennessee, on March 4, 1854, with a full load of cargo and passengers, many of whom were immigrant families. The steamboat was in the White River about twenty miles from its mouth on the afternoon of March 5 when a wood pile near the boilers caught fire, soon enveloping the entire boat in flames. The …

Carpenter Dam

aka: Lake Hamilton
Carpenter Dam is the second of three dams constructed along the Ouachita River in the vicinity of Hot Springs (Garland County), following Remmel Dam (completed in 1924) and preceding Blakely Mountain Dam (completed in the 1950s). The concrete gravity dam was built by Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), which later became Entergy, for purposes of producing hydroelectric power. It impounds the 7,200-acre Lake Hamilton. Carpenter Dam was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1992, in recognition of its role in the growth and development of Hot Springs. Flavius Josephus (Flave) Carpenter, an associate of AP&L president Harvey Couch, selected the site for the construction of Carpenter Dam, ten miles upstream from Remmel Dam, and so …

Carpenter, Flavius Josephus (Flave)

Flavius Josephus (Flave) Carpenter was a steamboat captain, U.S. marshal, and businessman. He is credited with selecting sites for two Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L, now Entergy) dams on the upper Ouachita River. Carpenter Dam, which created Lake Hamilton, is named for him. Flave Carpenter was born on March 24, 1851, in Franklin County, Georgia, to Martin Sims Carpenter and Martha Weeks Carpenter. The family moved to Arkansas in 1857, settling in Clark County. Carpenter’s father owned and operated a steamboat that plied the Ouachita River from Arkadelphia (Clark County) to points south, including New Orleans, Louisiana. As a young man, Carpenter accompanied his father and learned to pilot the boat. On June 28, 1875, Carpenter married Jane Elizabeth Wallis …

Cherokee [Steamboat]

The Cherokee was a steamboat that sustained a devastating and deadly boiler explosion at Lewisburg (Conway County) on December 11, 1840. The Cherokee, under the command of twenty-seven-year-old New York native Charles Harris, was advertised as a “well-known, very light draft, fast running steamboat.” The vessel made regular runs carrying passengers and cargo from New Orleans to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The steamboat arrived at the river town of Lewisburg around sunrise on December 11, 1840. After stopping for about fifteen minutes, the Cherokee pulled out into the Arkansas River, and almost immediately the flue of one boiler collapsed and another exploded, casting forth scalding steam and …

Clermont No. 2 [Steamboat]

The steamboat Clermont No. 2 sank after hitting a snag on the White River near Augusta (Woodruff County) on December 4, 1851, killing twenty-two passengers. The Clermont No. 2 was a 121-ton sidewheel paddleboat built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1845. Owned by a Captain Collins, the Clermont apparently usually ran on the St. Francis River but was traveling on the White River in late 1851. The steamboat hit a snag and sank in late September but was quickly raised and put back into service. The vessel had a far more serious accident in December. The Clermont No. 2 steamed away from Augusta on December 3, 1851, bound for Jacksonport (Jackson County) with nine cabin passengers and twenty-six deck passengers. At …

Coast Guard Auxiliary

aka: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, established by Congress in 1939 to assist the U.S. Coast Guard with all missions except military operations and law enforcement, is composed of more than 32,000 volunteers worldwide. Its traditional role has been promoting recreational boating safety through public education courses, assisting with search and rescue missions, conducting marine safety patrols on lakes and rivers, supporting regattas and marine events, and offering free vessel safety checks for recreational boaters as well as commercial vessels. Before members of the auxiliary can inspect a boat, a detailed instruction course is required. The course must be repeated every three years. In 1962, eighty avid Arkansan boaters, primarily from two boat clubs in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) metropolitan area, provided …

Comet [Steamboat]

The Comet was the first steamboat to go up the Arkansas River, arriving at Arkansas Post on March 31, 1820. The Comet was built 1817, the second steamboat constructed at Cincinnati, Ohio. The 154-ton vessel featured a high-pressure, stern-wheel vibrating cylinder engine that had been patented by inventor Daniel French in 1809. The Comet, under the command of a Captain Byrne, left New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 23, 1820, and headed toward Arkansas’s territorial capital at Arkansas Post. The journey of 149 running hours took eight days, and the vessel entered the mouth of the Arkansas River at noon on March 31. As night descended, the Comet ran aground on the bank of the river, which delayed its progress for …

Congress and Saladin, Collision of

The steam packet Saladin collided with the steamboat Congress on the evening of February 14, 1846, near Islands 86 and 87 in the Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend off Chicot County, sinking the Congress and killing as many as thirty passengers and crew. The Saladin, a sidewheel packet built in Louisville, Kentucky, by Thomas C. Coleman and John Coleman in 1846, was steaming toward New Orleans, Louisiana, as the steamboat Congress was heading upriver with a load of dry goods and both cabin and deck passengers. The Saladin, having stopped at the landing of the William H. Pope plantation, reentered the river channel at about 7:00 p.m. on the “cloudy and very dark” night. Spying the Saladin when it was …

Dardanelle Pontoon Bridge

The Dardanelle Pontoon Bridge was the largest pontoon bridge in existence in the United States, crossing the Arkansas River between Dardanelle (Yell County) and Russellville (Pope County). A toll bridge, it opened for traffic in 1891 and lasted until the construction of a steel bridge replacement in 1929. The bridge cost $25,000, financed by a group of stockholders and built by Roberts and Sons of Independence, Missouri. Construction started in 1889, and the bridge opened for traffic on April 1, 1891. It was over 2,200 feet long and eighteen feet wide, with a load limit of 9,000 pounds. Originally, each end of the bridge was anchored to a piling, and only the center actually floated. However, the fluctuation of the …

Defender [Steamboat]

The Defender was a Mississippi River steamboat that sank after hitting a snag near Laconia (Desha County) on April 14, 1860, killing at least three people. The Defender was a 294-ton sternwheel paddleboat built at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, in 1855. In 1860, it was commanded by a Captain Evans and running between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The vessel left New Orleans in April 1860 with a full load of cargo, including a reported “560 hogsheads sugar, 330 barrels molasses, 60 crates, 400 dry hides, 30 tons copper and iron, 300 sacks coffee, and a large amount of miscellaneous freight.” The steamboat also carried forty cabin passengers and thirty deck passengers. The Defender was steaming up the Mississippi River near …

Eagle [Steamboat]

The Eagle was a 118-ton steamboat that was the first steamer to navigate up the Arkansas River to Little Rock (Pulaski County), stopping at the capital on its way to deliver supplies to Dwight Mission near modern-day Russellville (Pope County). The Eagle, which was built in 1818 and commanded by a Captain Morris, reached Little Rock on March 16, 1822, having left New Orleans, Louisiana, seventeen days earlier and taken fifty-one hours to reach the territorial capital from the mouth of the Arkansas River—a journey that would have taken up to a month by keelboat. The Arkansas Gazette reported that Little Rock’s citizens were “very agreeably surprised” by the vessel’s arrival, which “reflects much credit on Capt. Morris for his …

Eclipse [Steamboat]

aka: City of St. Joseph [Steamboat]
The Eclipse was a steamboat that struck a snag on the Mississippi River near Osceola (Mississippi County) on September 12, 1925; a deckhand and a passenger lost their lives in the accident. The sternwheel paddleboat that would later be named the Eclipse was built in 1901 at St. Joseph, Missouri, for Captain A. Stewart for service on the Missouri River, and was christened the City of St. Joseph. The steamer was 162 feet long and thirty-six feet wide with a five-foot draft. The vessel was later sold to the Planter’s Packet Company in Memphis, Tennessee, and later to the Lee Line, which ran it on a route between Memphis and Caruthersville, Missouri. The 1925 accident was not the first for …

Forest Rose [Steamboat]

The steamboat Forest Rose suffered a disastrous boiler explosion on March 31, 1857, on the Mississippi River near Napoleon (Desha County), resulting in several deaths. The Forest Rose was a 205-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in 1852 in California, Pennsylvania, for Captain Francis Maratta of Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The vessel, which was 154 feet long and 28.5 feet wide and had a five-foot draft, initially ran between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, Missouri. By 1857, Captain Richard Allen of Paducah, Kentucky, owned the Forest Rose and was running the steamboat along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The Forest Rose was heading up the Mississippi from New Orleans, Louisiana, with a full cargo load bound for Little Rock (Pulaski County) and …

G. A. Thompson [Steamboat]

The G. A. Thomson was a sternwheel paddleboat that struck a snag and burned on the Arkansas River near Irwin’s Landing some fifty miles above Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in the early hours of April 9, 1869; seventeen people died in the accident. The 366-ton steamboat G. A. Thomson was built at Eureka, Wisconsin, and finished at St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1865 for Captain James Alexander Fraser of Cincinnati, Ohio, and James H. Kelly of Racine, Wisconsin. The vessel normally ran between St. Louis and New Orleans. Kelly had apparently sold his interest in the G. A. Thomson to Captain Ben F. Davidson by mid-March 1869 when the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Davidson had accepted an offer from parties in …

General Bem [Steamboat]

The steamboat General Bem struck a snag below Walnut Bend on the Mississippi River in 1854, losing fifteen passengers. The General Bem was a 116-ton sidewheel steamboat built at Paducah, Kentucky, in 1849. The vessel was going downstream from Cincinnati, Ohio, heading for the Arkansas River under a full head of steam on January 3, 1854. As it approached the “Grand Cut-off” near Walnut Bend, east of Marianna (Lee County), at around 9:00 p.m., it struck a snag. According to reports, the General Bem “poised herself for a moment” on the snag and then “commenced swinging, in which operation she was torn into a thousand atoms.” The crew and several passengers rushed to the upper deck after the collision, with …

Greers Ferry Dam and Lake

Greers Ferry Dam on the Little Red River, approximately three miles north of Heber Springs (Cleburne County), is a concrete dam built between 1959 and 1962. The dam’s primary function is flood control, but it also serves as a hydroelectric power plant. Greers Ferry Lake, created as a result of the dam, is a popular recreational destination. The flow of the Little Red River was uncontrolled during the first half of the twentieth century, resulting in almost yearly flooding downstream; high water levels in the Little Red River could compound flooding problems further downstream along the White River. In 1938, Congress passed the Flood Control Act, which authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build dams on most of …

Hallie [Steamboat]

The Hallie was a shallow-draft steam packet built in the spring of 1873 to trade along the waters of the Arkansas River. It was scuttled during the Brooks-Baxter War in 1874 after the Battle of Palarm. Captain A. M. Woodruff built the Hallie in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the spring of 1873 to provide reliable transport services on the Arkansas River, which was often difficult to traverse because of low water. He named it for the young daughter of Captain J. N. Jabine, who also commanded steamboats on the river. It made its maiden run to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in early April, with the Arkansas Gazette reporting on April 13 that the vessel “proves to be one of …

J. Wilson [Steamboat]

The J. Wilson was a steamboat that was destroyed when two of its boilers exploded as it left Columbia (Chicot County) on January 6, 1853, resulting in dozens of deaths. Captain John Rotan and J. M. Craig had the J. Wilson built in 1852 with plans to use the vessel to transport freight and cotton along the Mississippi River. Rotan served as the vessel’s captain. The steamboat had just taken a load of freight owned by A. H. Davies and Johnson Chapman aboard at the landing at Columbia on January 6, 1853, when two of its boilers exploded, completely destroying the vessel’s forecastle and a third of its hurricane deck roof. A report in the Washington Telegraph stated that “all …

John Adams [Steamboat]

The John Adams was a steamboat that hit a snag in the Mississippi River and sank, killing 130 passengers and crew members on January 27, 1851. The John Adams was a 298-ton sidewheel paddleboat built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1848 by Captain Henry A. Jones and his partners to run the route between Cincinnati and New Orleans, Louisiana. The vessel was headed upriver at full steam with a full load of cargo and passengers—many of them returning from the California Gold Rush, along with immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Italy—when the vessel struck a snag at around 3:00 a.m. on January 27, 1851, near Island No. 82, located between Columbia (Chicot County) and Gaines’ Landing (Chicot County). The pilot, a …

Junction Bridge

The Junction Bridge is a lift-span bridge crossing the Arkansas River between downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). One of six bridges linking the two downtowns, the Junction Bridge was originally constructed as a railroad bridge in 1884; it was rebuilt in 1970, then converted to serve as a pedestrian bridge in 2008. Its southern end rests upon the geological feature that gave the city of Little Rock its name. The Little Rock, Mississippi River and Texas Railroad and the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad created a partnership in the early 1880s, envisioning a route that would stretch from the Gulf Coast to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). A new bridge across the Arkansas …

Little Rock Port Authority

aka: Port of Little Rock
The Port of Little Rock, part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, is operated by the Little Rock Port Authority (LRPA). The LRPA oversees the port, which provides intermodal transportation services to connect U.S. markets to the deep-water ports of the Gulf of Mexico. The port encompasses an industrial park located along the banks of the Arkansas River, approximately seven miles from downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County); the 2,600-acre industrial park has more than forty businesses. The Port of Little Rock operates two river terminals (a river port and a slackwater harbor) and a short-line railroad, as well as Foreign Trade Zone 14. (Foreign-trade zones are designated locations in the United States in which companies are able to delay …

Martha Washington [Steamboat]

The Martha Washington was a steamboat that caught fire on the Mississippi River south of Helena (Phillips County) on January 14, 1852, with as many as nine people losing their lives. Several trials were held later amid allegations that the fire was deliberately set for insurance purposes. The Martha Washington was a 299-ton sidewheel paddleboat built at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1847 for runs between Cincinnati and New Orleans, Louisiana. The steamboat was heading south on the Mississippi River when it caught fire near Island 65 at around 1:30 a.m. on January 14, 1852. Captain John N. Cummings “was everywhere in attempting to save life,” and “the pilot and engineer stood at their post like heroes amid the smoke and flames; …

Mary E. Poe [Steamboat]

The Mary E. Poe was a sternwheel steamboat that caught fire and burned on October 17, 1873, north of Osceola (Mississippi County); at least six passengers and crew members died in the accident. The Mary E. Poe was built at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1871. Powered by three boilers, the Poe was 188 feet long and thirty-three feet wide and had a draft of five feet. It was built for Captain Thomas Poe and ran the St. Louis to Red River route for the Carter Line Packet Company. Poe was in command of the Mary E. Poe, having moved to that vessel after the loss of the Nick Wall in December 1870, an accident in which his wife was fatally injured. …

McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS)

The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) was the largest civil works project ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the time of its opening. Today, it is responsible for $1 billion to $2 billion in trade transportation in Arkansas each year and from $100 million to $1 billion in trade transportation in Oklahoma. Additionally, the system has numerous flood protection projects, hydro power plants, and soil conservation and recreational areas. Many communities, such as Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County), have taken advantage of the development to enhance further riverfront developments, such as the River Market and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. At 1,460 miles long, the Arkansas River is …

Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge

The Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge on Interstate Highway 55 connects Arkansas with Tennessee at Memphis. Since its opening on the morning of December 17, 1949, the span has served as a vital link for automotive traffic to cross the Mississippi River. When the Frisco Bridge was built for railroads in 1892, automobile traffic was not a factor. The Harahan Bridge, the second bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee, opened in the summer of 1916. Due to increasing numbers of automobiles on both sides of the river, carriageways were hung off both sides of the Harahan in 1917. These provided a single lane for traffic on either side of the bridge. Although Arkansas cars could cross the Mississippi River at Memphis beginning in …

Mercury [Steamboat]

The Mercury was a sternwheel river packet that struck a snag in the White River on March 13, 1867, and sank, killing several people, as well as more than 200 mules being transported on the vessel. The Mercury was a 184-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, in 1862. The steamboat was used as a troop transport and supply vessel during the Civil War, being chartered the majority of the time between July 1863 through the cessation of hostilities in 1865. The vessel was beached and then sunk near St. Louis in May 1865 after colliding with another steamer, the Hard Times. The Mercury’s cargo of wounded soldiers was successfully transferred to the Hard Times after the accident; the vessel …

Miami [Steamboat]

The Miami was a steamboat destroyed by fire on the Arkansas River in 1866 with a loss of as many as 200 passengers and crewmen. The Miami was a 175-ton sternwheel packet built in 1863 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The vessel initially operated between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Louisville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River but was sent to Memphis, Tennessee, in August 1865 to make runs between that town and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Captain E. A. Levy was in command when the steamboat left Memphis at 9:00 p.m. on January 27, 1866, with a full load of cargo and as many as 300 passengers, including Gen. Ashley’s Band, an African-American musical group from Little Rock, and ninety-five men of Company E …

Nancy F [Ferryboat]

The Nancy F was a ferryboat that caught fire and sank in the Mississippi River on December 3, 1929, killing the vessel’s pilot after he saved the life of a preteen girl. The Nancy F, which was powered by a seventy-horsepower oil-burning diesel engine, began ferrying vehicles and passengers between Westover (Phillips County) and Friars Point, Mississippi, around 1925. It was owned by Fletcher P. Fitzgerald of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and was valued at $20,000. The vessel left Westover on a bitterly cold December 3, 1929, with five crew members and fifteen passengers, including George Smith of Helena (Phillips County) and his daughters Opal, Effie, and Estelle, who with their truck full of household goods were heading across the river to …

New Hampshire [Steamboat]

The New Hampshire was a steamboat that suffered twelve fatalities when its boilers exploded on the Arkansas River below Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the early morning hours of May 6, 1847. The principal owners of the New Hampshire were William Harvey Allen, who was the captain, and his younger brother George, who was first clerk. An old family friend, Robert B. Cupples, was second clerk on the New Hampshire. The steamboat ran a route between Little Rock and New Orleans, Louisiana, and boasted of being “new, with good accommodations for passengers, and from her light draught, affords better facilities for shippers having their goods delivered without delay, than any boat in the trade.” The vessel was steaming up the …

Niagara and Post Boy, Collision of

The steamboat Post Boy collided with the Niagara on the Mississippi River above Helena (Phillips County) on October 20, 1865, sinking the Niagara and killing seventy-five people, most of them homebound members of the United States Colored Troops. The Niagara was a 797-ton sidewheel paddleboat built in 1864 at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Captain Henry A. Jones and his partners. By 1865, the vessel was running between St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana, for the Atlantic and Mississippi Steamship Company under Captain William Fitzgerald and clerk John Greenough. The Niagara had a full load of cargo and people, including 250 bales of cotton and as many as 300 deck and cabin passengers, including 129 former United States Colored Troops who …

Nick Wall [Steamboat]

The Nick Wall was a sternwheel river packet that struck a snag on the Mississippi River near Grand Lake (Chicot County) on December 18, 1870. At least thirty-nine passengers and crew members died in the accident. The Nick Wall, named for a noteworthy Missouri River riverboat captain, was a 338-ton sternwheel paddleboat built in 1869 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The vessel was heading from St. Louis to Fort Benton, Montana, on the Missouri River when it struck a snag near Brownville, Nebraska, in March 1869 and sank. The steamboat was reportedly “raised by Submarine No. 14” in May and sent to St. Louis for repairs, which were completed in June. Thomas Poe of Georgetown, Pennsylvania, bought a half interest in the …

Norfork Dam and Lake

Built on the North Fork River, just upstream from its confluence with the White River in Baxter County in north-central Arkansas, Norfork Dam and Lake are named after the nearby town of Norfork (Baxter County). The dam was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1938, and construction began in the spring of 1941, making it one of the oldest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ multi-purpose concrete structures. The reservoir extends north from the dam site to near Tecumseh, Missouri, and covers portions of Baxter and Fulton counties in Arkansas and Ozark County in Missouri. The drainage area controlled by the reservoir is about 1,806 square miles. The project also contains a powerhouse that houses the generators and …

Pennsylvania [Steamboat]

The Pennsylvania was a steamboat that burst a boiler and burned on the Mississippi River near Ship Island north of Helena (Phillips County) on June 13, 1858, resulting in the deaths of 160 passengers and crew members, including the younger brother of famed author Mark Twain. The Pennsylvania was a 486-ton sidewheel paddleboat. Its hull was constructed at Shousetown, Pennsylvania, and it was finished out at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1854. The Pennsylvania was 247 feet long and thirty-two feet wide with a 6.3-foot draft. It originally ran between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Ohio, but in 1858 switched to runs between St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana. John Klinefelter was the steamboat’s captain. Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the pen name …

Persian [Steamboat]

The steamboat Persian suffered a deadly boiler explosion on the Mississippi River near Napoleon (Desha County) in 1840, costing the lives of thirty passengers and crew members. On the night of November 7, 1840, the steamboat Persian stopped near Napoleon to take on wood to fire its boilers. The vessel was about three miles below Napoleon when a boiler flue collapsed, releasing scalding steam and water that killed six people instantly and left dozens of others with dreadful injuries. The ship’s captain, described as “one of the best men of his vocation on the western water,” was asleep at the time of the accident. Several of the Persian’s firemen claimed that the pilot was drunk. A passenger on another vessel …

Pocahontas [Steamboat]

The Pocahontas was a steamboat that ran between New Orleans, Louisiana, and cities along the Arkansas River. In 1852, the vessel suffered two fatal accidents, the second of which resulted in its destruction. The Pocahontas was a 397-ton sidewheel paddleboat that was constructed in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849. By early 1852, the vessel was one of only three steamboats “running in the Arkansas river and New Orleans trade,” with Captain H. J. (or H. S.) Moore offering service to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Van Buren (Crawford County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Fort Gibson, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The Pocahontas’s first accident occurred on March 14, 1852, as the steamboat left the woodyard at Hog Thief Bend on the Arkansas …

Remmel Dam

aka: Lake Catherine
Remmel Dam is situated on the Ouachita River at Jones Mills (Hot Spring County). It was constructed in 1924 by Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), now Entergy, in response to the growing demand for electrical power in southern Arkansas and surrounding states. The dam impounds Lake Catherine and, together with Carpenter Dam in Hot Springs (Garland County), provides hydroelectric power for southern Arkansas. Part of a three-dam project on the Ouachita River along with Carpenter Dam (completed in 1931) and Blakely Mountain Dam (completed in 1953), it played an important role in the early development of AP&L. In 1916, former riverboat captain Flave Carpenter met with Harvey Couch, who founded AP&L in 1913, to discuss the possibility of building dams on …