Entry Type: Thing - Starting with O

Official State Songs

Forty-eight of the fifty states have designated one or more songs as official “state songs.” Arkansas has so designated no less than four compositions. (Only three states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Tennessee—have adopted more.) Their styles include devotional anthem, sprightly folk melody, and 1980s vintage country-pop. The earliest was adopted contemporaneously with the flowering of progressivism in Arkansas and marked a popular appreciation of the state’s natural beauty and agricultural bounties, turning away from the “hillbilly” Arkansas of early twentieth-century popular humor. Subsequent state song adoptions largely followed in this vein. Arkansas’s first unofficial song was likely the fiddle tune known popularly as “The Arkansas Traveler.” It appeared under this title by the mid-nineteenth century and became associated with a popular …

Official State Tree

aka: Pine Tree
House Concurrent Resolution No. 2 of 1939 designated the pine tree as Arkansas’s official state tree. The resolution, introduced by State Representative Boyd Tackett of Pike County, cited the state’s timber resources as one of its greatest sources of wealth and, notably, “one of the few renewable resources of the state.” The measure was introduced on January 11 and met no opposition, winning final approval on January 20. The resolution did not specify a particular native pine species, but reference is often made to either the southern shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) or the loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Before European-American in-migration and settlement, almost all of Arkansas was forested with notable diversity. Until the maturation of Arkansas’s rail network in the …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Oil Industry

The oil industry in Arkansas, which includes exploration and the production, refinement, and distribution of petroleum-based products, exploded onto the state’s economic scene in the early 1920s, and once-local production expanded into an international business. From 1920 to 2003, more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil have been produced in Arkansas. Ten counties in Arkansas produce oil, all in the southern region of the state: Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Columbia, Hempstead, Lafayette, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, and Union. Historically, most of this production has been in Union, Lafayette, Columbia, and Ouachita counties. These four counties have been responsible for more than eighty-five percent of the oil produced in the state. Evidence of oil in the state existed well before the oil boom …

Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium

The Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium served the African-American community in western Clark County for almost two decades. The last remaining structure on the former Simmons High School campus, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011. Okolona (Clark County) was first settled in the early nineteenth century. The town attracted residents as it grew into a regional agricultural and transportation hub. Education played an important role in the development of the town, with the first school opening in 1833, followed by a second in 1857. The Okolona Male and Female Institute opened in the town in 1871, and Okolona High School began operations in 1890. Schools for African Americans in the community …

Okolona Male and Female Institute

aka: Okolona Academy
The Okolona Male and Female Institute was a school that operated for over seven decades in Okolona (Clark County) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally known as the Okolona Academy, it was the first formal school to operate in the town. The first families to settle in the Okolona area arrived in the early 1830s. A post office was established in 1858, and the population slowly grew over the next several decades. The first permanent school to open in the community began operations in 1857. Constructed on the site of an early school housed in a log cabin, this school was the first in the area to meet regularly. It was housed in a two-story wood building and was …

Old Arkansas 51, Curtis to Gum Springs

Old Arkansas 51 is an abandoned highway located in Clark County between the towns of Curtis and Gum Springs. Constructed in 1931, it was replaced by U.S. Highway 67 in 1965. This stretch of highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. The communities of Curtis and Gum Springs were settled in the late nineteenth century, and each served as stops on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The two settlements were connected by roads, which were improved over the decades. The roads evolved from the Southwest Trail, one of the earliest roads in the state. Named Arkansas Highway 51, the road linking the communities became part of the Arkansas Highway System when it was created …

Old Bank of Amity

The Old Bank of Amity is a two-story brick structure located on the northwest corner of the square in Amity (Clark County). Constructed between 1906 and 1907, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1991. Amity was first settled in 1847 and grew over the next several decades due to the rich reserves of timber in the area. By the early 1900s, the Gurdon and Fort Smith Railroad reached the community, opening up new shipping options for the lumber mills that operated in the area. The Bank of Amity was founded in 1905 by William Curtis Hays. The first mention of the bank building appeared in 1906 when a Gurdon craftsman visited the …

Old Highway 16 Bridge

The Old Highway 16 Bridge, located on Lakefront Resort Road near Edgemont (Cleburne County), is a reinforced concrete, closed-spandrel deck-arch bridge built in 1936 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 11, 2011. Edgemont began as the Kinderhook settlement in the mid-nineteenth century but did not thrive until the arrival of the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad in 1908, after which the town had a bank, three sawmills, a cotton gin, a lumber company, and several restaurants. A result of the railroad construction was the “Edgemont Cut,” which sliced through a steep ridge that ran between Edgemont and the middle fork …

Old Randolph County Courthouse

The Old Randolph County Courthouse sits in the middle of historic downtown Pocahontas (Randolph County). The second courthouse to serve Randolph County, the Old Courthouse is made of bricks and wood and decorated with wood trimming. A cupola adorns the roof. The building once had a vault, but it was removed sometime in the 1930s. Although the Old Courthouse is no longer home to the court system, it is still an important landmark for the city of Pocahontas. The Randolph County courts moved their offices diagonally across the street from the Old Courthouse to the new courthouse in 1940, after more than sixty years of service for the Old Courthouse. Since that time, the Old Courthouse has had several uses, …

Old River Bridge

The Old River Bridge spans a section of the Saline River at the end of River Street in Benton (Saline County). It is one of the oldest remaining bridges of its kind in the state. The Old River Bridge spans 260 feet and is composed of iron beams, two large trusses, and a wooden platform supported by iron columns. The bridge itself dates back to an act of the Saline County Court, which appropriated $5,000 “for the construction of an iron bridge over the Saline River at the Military Road Crossing” in 1889. Construction was completed in 1891 by Youngstown Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio. The land around it is also important, having been the site of William Lockhart’s settlement …

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section, located at 1612 Smith Road in Rondo (Miller County), commemorates Confederate soldiers from Texas who died of disease in Rondo in 1862. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 22, 2004. On June 12, 1862, Brigadier General Henry Eustace McCulloch ordered all Confederate troops located east of Tyler, Texas, to march to Little Rock (Pulaski County), which was threatened by Samuel Curtis’s Union army. These troops included the Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment under Colonel Richard Waterhouse. At least seven companies of the Nineteenth were stationed at Rondo, just past the Arkansas-Texas state line, from July through early September. While the men were camped at Rondo, measles struck, killing dozens of Waterhouse’s …

Old Scott County Courthouse

The Old Scott County Courthouse is located on courthouse square in the historic commercial district of Waldron (Scott County). It was built in 1934 and housed the county government until 1996, when the county completed the current courthouse: a plain, contemporary structure that is located on 1st Street in Waldron. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) recognizes the 1934 building, a three-level courthouse with a full basement, as architecturally and historically significant due to its Art Deco style and as an example of a New Deal–era project. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1989. Since Waldron became the county seat in 1845, seven courthouses have served as the seat of justice, including the …

Old Scott County Jail

The Old Scott County Jail is located on West 2nd Street in Waldron (Scott County), adjacent to the Waldron Commercial Historic District. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 16, 2002. In 1907, plans were made to build a new jail to replace the old wooden jail that was in derelict condition, according to Judge W. A. Bates. J. L. McCartney was chosen to build the new jail after recently constructing a new courthouse downtown. The stone jail was completed in 1908. On March 22, 1933, a fire destroyed the courthouse that McCartney had built. A new courthouse opened on February 21, 1935, with the third floor designed to serve as the county jail. Upon …

Old Springdale High School

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was enjoying great prosperity as a shipping and processing hub for the northwestern Arkansas fruit and vegetable industry. With the economic good times came population growth and the need for a new school building. School officials opted to demolish the town’s 1871 school and construct a new one on the same site (present-day corner of Highway 71B and Johnson Avenue). The land had been donated to Springdale School District 50 in 1901 by community leaders Millard and Ida Berry with the stipulation that the property always be used for school purposes. In the fall of 1909, Rogers (Benton County) architect Albert Oscar (A. O.) Clarke was hired …

Old U.S. Highway 67

Highway 67 was one of the original highways included when the Arkansas State Highway System was formed in 1923; it was also one of the first Arkansas highways to be integrated as part of the U.S. highway system in 1925. By the late 1920s, Highway 67 was in need of serious improvement. The Arkansas State Highway commission began a major effort to upgrade and improve Arkansas’s major highways, including Highway 67, through the 1930s. Five sections of the highway and one rest area from this period, as well as a bridge and a rest area, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The route of the highway followed that of the Southwest Trail of the early 1800s, …

Old U.S. Highway 71

Originally constructed over several years in the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. Route 71 began serving as a major thoroughfare in western Arkansas. Bypassed by new construction between the 1950s and 1980s, what is now referred to as Old U.S. Route 71 has six sections listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each section listed on the register continues to carry local traffic in the twenty-first century, which is a testament to the sturdiness of the construction. The various sections of the road were constructed in a similar manner. Made of Bates-type concrete, the road surface includes tan stone mixed with concrete and laid over a wire frame. The road includes nine-foot-wide lanes that are separated by a four-and-a-half-inch-wide gap …

Old Union School

Early residents of Randolph County settled in the Ozark Plateau area of the county. While many of these communities are gone, remnants of their existence can be seen. For the Birdell (Randolph County) community, the Old Union School survives as an example of the early history of this once thriving community. Located approximately two miles northwest of the community, the school is a prime example of what early education looked like in rural Arkansas. The early community of Birdell constructed a hewn-log school out of material readily available, which was a common building technique in early Arkansas. It is believed that the original school was built sometime prior to the Civil War. This school burned in 1910, and classes were …

On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw

A ninety-six-page joke book, On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw gained wide popularity upon its publication in 1903 and eventually became the bestselling joke book in American history. Subtitled “funny railroad stories—stories of the Southern darkies—all the best minstrel jokes of the day,” the book includes puns, some tall tales, and the prevalent racial and gender stereotypes of its day. The author, Thomas W. Jackson (1867–1934), was a train brakeman for the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company who collected stories and jokes he heard on his travels; as he had injured his hand in an accident and was not able to write, his wife wrote his stories down for the book. Published in Chicago, the book was sold by “train butchers,” …

One Drop Rule

aka: Act 320 of 1911
aka: House Bill 79 of 1911
In 1911, Arkansas passed Act 320 (House Bill 79), also known as the “one-drop rule.” This law had two goals: it made interracial “cohabitation” a felony, and it defined as “Negro” anyone “who has…any negro blood whatever,” thus relegating to second-class citizenship anyone accused of having any African ancestry. Although the law had features unique to Arkansas, it largely reflected nationwide trends. Laws against interracial sex were not new. Virginia declared extramarital sex a crime during Oliver Cromwell’s era and increased the penalty for sex across the color line in 1662. In 1691, Virginia criminalized matrimony when celebrated by an interracial couple. Maryland did so the following year, and others followed. By 1776, twelve of the thirteen colonies that declared …

One False Move

One False Move is a 1992 thriller co-written by Arkansan Billy Bob Thornton, who was born in Hot Springs (Garland County). Running for one hour and forty-five minutes, the R-rated film stars Thornton, his future wife Cynda Williams, and Bill Paxton, known for roles in the hit films Apollo 13, Twister, and Titanic. The director of One False Move was Carl Franklin, who went on to direct Denzel Washington in 1995’s Devil in a Blue Dress. The screenplay was written by Thornton and Tom Epperson, a native of Malvern (Hot Spring County). One False Move was a low-budget independent film that became popular through word of mouth as well as critical raves from film critic Roger Ebert and his reviewing …

One With Others

One With Others is C. D. Wright’s 2010 book of investigative, documentary poetry chronicling the life of her mentor, Margaret Kaelin McHugh, otherwise known as “V.” The “nom de guerre” of V. was given to McHugh by a “gaggle of unsolicited student acolytes,” among them Wright, who took McHugh into their student housing in Memphis, Tennessee, after she was exiled from her hometown in eastern Arkansas for her role in the 1969 March Against Fear from West Memphis (Crittenden County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taking as its subject the “stuck clock of history,” the book switches between 1969 Big Tree, the fictive name Wright gives V’s hometown, and 2004 Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood, as V. is dying. While …

Opal’s Steak House

Opal’s Steak House is a single-story building designed in the Art Moderne style. Constructed as a restaurant circa 1948 on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), it has held various businesses over the decades. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. The brick and stucco building faces Park Avenue to the south and is turned at an angle to the street. The building is fronted with a door to the left and a window that covers the center and right side of the front wall. Constructed from brick, the front of the building includes two projecting brick bands above the door and window. Both corners of the front façade are curved. Another …