Battle of Pea Ridge took place on March 6 - 8, 1862 and was one of the largest engagements in the Western Theater of the Civil War.
Additional reading: Pea Ridge Civil War Campaign in the West by William L. Shea and Earl J. Hess
Lake Ouachita State Park was a pleasant surprise. It was an alternative to staying at the less-than-inspiring campgrounds of Hot Springs Nat. Park. Lake Ouachita is a massive lake that stretches over 40,000 acres. It's perfect for fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, etc.... The campgrounds were very well-kept - I stayed right next to the water. I even woke up early and jumped in the clear waters of the lake. The park also has its own spring...The Three Sisters Spring...but the water wasn't fit for drinking.
The last place I camped was at Mount Magazine State Park. It's a new state park and sits atop the tallest peak in Arkansas...Mount Magazine. Actually, Mt. Magazine isn't very tall...it's more like a big hill... but in this part of the country we'll take any kind of mountain that we can get. The campgrounds were very nice. There aren't any lakes or rivers here, but there are some scenic overlooks...a.k.a. great views. Hiking is the thing to do here...I took a trail and found a marker which indicateds the highest point of Mt. Mag...it seems like there would have been a nice view from this point, but it was surrounded by trees. Another thing about this area of Arkansas...it's bear country...Unfortunately, I didn't see any, but the park rangers said the bears had hit many trash cans that night...I did hear something creeping around during the night...should've had a look!
Pea Ridge National Military Park commemorates the Civil War battle that occured here on 7 and 8 March 1862. Here 26,000 soldiers fought to decide the fate of Missouri. Even though the Confederate Forces won the early battles, the Union Forces under Brigadier General Samuel Curtis defeated the Confederate Forces under Major General Van Dorn essentially keeping Missouri under Union control. This battle followed closely the battle at Wilson's Creek and was a pivotal battle in the Civial War. The 4,300-acre park honors those who fought to preserve their way of life. Pea Ridge is the most intact Civil War battlefield in the country. In addition to the battlefields there is also the Ruddick Farm, a nice museum in the Visitor's Center and other points of interest. This park is well worth a visit.
For more information and photos see my Pea Ridge National Historic Park Page coming soon.
DeWitt (or De Witt) is the county seat of Arkansas County and has a population approaching 4000. I found it to be a pleasant little town with a friendly populace and a nice historic district. Interestingly, the town name came from writing three proposed names on slips of paper and drawing them from a hat. The main Historic District surrounds the County Court House.
There was a small farmer's market going on when I visited the town. The people were very friendly, and the vegetables very fresh.
While here stop at Lizzie's a nice restaurant across from the courthouse.
Pine Ridge is one of several tiny places along Arkansas Highway 88. The main thing here is the Lum and Abner Museum. Lum and Abner were a duo of comedians that had a radio show from 1932 to 1954. They also made a few movies. They were known for their low key, rural wit. They resided in the then fictional town of Pine Ridge and ran the Jot 'em Down General Store. They (the charcters) were constantly getting involved in get rich quick schemes but getting thwarted by their nemeisis. The show was very popular for many years. The small town of Pine Ridge and the museum came to be because of the show.
The museum is stuffed full of memorabilia about the show, Lum and Abner themselves, the area and artifacts from the time period. Chester Lauck (who played Columbus "Lum" Edwards) and Norris Goff (Abner Peabody), were from nearby Mena.
For more information see my Pine Ridge Page.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is perched high in the Ouachita Mountains. I was there in June and the park was a welcome relief from the high 90 degree weather in the lowlands. The park was much cooler and the views were spectacular.
The park has had well-known luxurious lodging since 1898. The currect lodge is certainly no exception. The lobby is very impressive and the 38 guest rooms are (reportedly, I did not see them) also very nice. Good restaurant too.
In addition there are other things to do like hike (although the trails were closed when I was there due to an angry black bear) mini-golf, train rides, and other activities. This is a very nice park!
For more information see my Queen Wilhelmina State Park Page.
Is it Southern Quirkiness or Just More Adorable in One Space than You Can Stand? Well, whatever you want to call it - the Peabody Hotel has pet ducks. They live upstairs (I'm sure in their very own suite) and every morning they are escorted downstairs to the lobby where there is a fountain they swim around in all day. Then in the evening, they're again escorted back up to their beds for the night. They have a red carpet and even little steps to help them get up into the fountain. See? More adorable than you can stand!
You can take pictures but don't feed or touch the ducks. There's a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs. And if you want to enjoy the ducks for a long time, the Peabody is a pretty nice hotel so you could stay there during your stay in town.
Of course one of the main things to do at Hot Springs National Park is to go to bathhouse row and experience the springs. People have flocked to the area since the mid 1800s to experience the healing powers and just plain comfort from the hot natural water. Bathhouse row started then and has changed in some ways and stayed the same in some. Of the eight original buildings on the row; one is now the visitor's center and two (I think) function as bathhouses.
There is a nice drive up one of the mountains belonging to the park right near bathhouse row. The road is very twisty with tight turns but the view at the top is worth it.
At the top of the mountain is a viewing tower. The tower is run by a private organization and was fairly expensive. The view from the free viewpoint was good enough for me.
Other things to do at the park include hiking and having a picnic.
I happened to be there when they were having a Challenger/Charger rally so my car and I fit right in.
For more information see my Hot Springs National Park Page.
Sheridan is the county seat of Grant County, and home to the Grant County Court House. It has a population of around 4000. Sheridan has a small historic district with buildings from the late 1800s to the early 1900s around the court house. Sheridan is a nice little town.
For more information see my Sheridan Page.
Mena is the county seat of Polk County and has a population of around 6000. It is located in the far west central part of the state near Oklahoma. The court house was built in 1939. Frankly, I liked the Mena City Hall better than the Polk County Court House. The city hall was built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mena also has an historic district, and is located near the beautiful Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
For more information see my Mena and Queen Wilhelmina State Park Pages.
The building housing the Phillips County Museum was built in 1891 and the museum displays various artifacts including early paintings, a Thomas Edison Collection, Native American items, letters from General Lafayette, General Robert E. Lee, and other Civil War artifacts. Hours are 10 AM to 4 PM Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sunday and Monday. The facility is handicapped accessible.
Helena and West Helena used to be separate cities but were merged in 2006. West Helena is the more modernized part with most of the fast food, motels etc., and Helena has most of the old part of town. The Phillips County Court House (Photo 1) is also in the Helena part of town. The town has a combined population of over 15,000. There is also the Cherry Streey Historic District and there are a number of neat old mansions in town like the Pillow-Thompson House which is owned and operated by the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, and was built in 1896 using the Queen Anne style of architecture (Photo 2); the Solomon House and Magnolia Hill. Helena is also home to the Centennial Baptist Church (Photo 3) which is is the only known Arkansas example of an African-American church designed by an African-American architect, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was built in 1905 using the Gothic Revival style of architecture by African-American architect Henry James Price. Helena was the site of the first Christian service held west of the Mississippi, on 25 June 1541, and held by Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto (Photo 4). Helena also has Battery C Park which is a battleground from the Civil War and a nice place to relax.
For more information see my Helena Page.
The Arkansas Post Museum State Park is kind of a companion piece to the Arkansas Post National Memorial. It consists of several buildings and artifacts from the early history of the area. They are also trying to preserve the prairie grass native to Arkansas by replanting 4 acres of the grass.
The different buildings are set up with appropriate artifacts and items to their function. The main area for other artifacts and displays is the Peterson Building. The Peterson Building was named after John L. Peterson who was instrumental in getting the park started. They also have an early pioneer kitchen. The kitchen was frequently built in a separate building from the main house. This was done for safety reasons and to keep the heat from the kitchen from affecting the house during the summer.
For more information see my Arkansas Post Page.
It would be more appropriate to name this place the Arkansas Posts National Memorial since there have been several posts on or near this site. Although Spanish explorer Hernan de Soto passed this way in 1542, and Father Marquette a French Missionary passed this way in 1682, the first Arkansas Post was not established until 1686 when Henri de Tonti settled in the area and built the post. This post was established for the Bourbons of France, and predated the settlement of New Orleans by 32 years. Later, the flags of Spain, Napoleonic France,the United States, and the Confederate States of America would fly over the seven different posts established here. This was also the site of a Civil War Battle.
One of the reasons people kept coming to this place was it's location on the Arkansas River. The life and history of the town and the posts are tied to this river.
An American Town was established here in 1805. This was a major economic hub for the Arkansas Territory and served as the capitol for two years from 1819 to 1821. The town's demise started with the CivilWar. This disrupted traffic on the river and the economy of the town collapsed. The town was also almost totally destroyed by bombardment by Union Troops. The town never recovered. The area was declared a state park in 1929 and a National Memorial in 1960.
Sports available in the area include fishing, boating and hiking.
For more information see my Arkansas Post National Memorial Page.
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