Arkansas History

  • Long before the Crater of Diamonds at Murfreesboro became a state park, auto industrialist Henry Ford attempted to purchase the site.
  • One of the finest Bowie Knife exhibits in the world is at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Two rare James Black knives are part of the collection. The exhibit is sponsored by the American Bladesmith Society.
  • Fossilized mastodon bones from the Ice Age have been recovered along the Mississippi and White Rivers in eastern Arkansas and on Crowley's Ridge. The St. Francis County Museum in Forrest City and the Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro display examples.
  • Zachary Taylor, who became President in 1848, was commander of Fort Smith in the late 1830s. He avoided wearing military uniforms as much as possible, and was sometimes mistaken for a misplaced farmer while on errands outside the post.
  • The Wolf House at Norfork in Baxter County was built by Jacob Wolf in the early 1800s. It is believed to be the oldest two-story dogtrot log house in Arkansas.
  • The site of the "Old Arsenal" in Little Rock's MacArthur Park was purchased by the U.S. Army in 1836 for $1 per acre. The structure now houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.
  • An 1834 Little Rock banquet honoring Colonel Davy Crockett, who was on his way to the Alamo, featured bear meat as the main course. While in Little Rock, he stayed at the Hinderlighter Tavern, now a part of the Historic Arkansas Museum.
  • The greater part of the stone used in the construction of the State Capitol Building in Little Rock is commonly known as Batesville marble and was quarried in Arkansas.
  • The massive bronze front doors of the Arkansas State Capitol are 10-feet tall, four inches thick and were purchased from Tiffany's of New York for $10,000. Today their estimated value is over $250,000.
  • Little Rock's Old State House, a designated National Historic Landmark, is recognized architecturally as one of the most beautiful antebellum structures in the South. It is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River.
  • In the 1920s, Little Rock was home of the Climber Automobile Manufacturing Company which built approximately 200 four-cylinder, 40-horsepower cars and 100 pickup trucks. Only two Climbers are in existence today, both of which are housed at the Museum of Automobiles atop Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton.
  • During Hot Springs' "bathing experience" heyday of the teens, '20s and '30s, this national reservation was the place for the rich and famous of the time: Babe Ruth, Harry Truman, Andrew Carnegie and F.W. Woolworth all visited.
  • Al Capone, who, along with his gang, occupied the entire fourth floor of the popular Arlington Hotel when visiting Hot Springs, also known as the "Spa City." A brass plaque marks his favorite suite -- Room 442.
  • Former slave Carolyn Dye (1842-1918) of Newport had a national reputation as a fortune teller. She amassed a $100,000 estate, owned eight farms, and was mentioned in W. C. Handy's song "Sundown Blues."
  • One of every five Confederate casualties at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862, was from Arkansas.
  • The oldest National Cemetery in the U.S. is located at Fort Smith. Frontier Judge Isaac C. Parker and World War II hero William O. Darby of Darby's Rangers are among the notables buried there.
  • Joseph T. Robinson served as Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator from Arkansas -- all in one year (1913). Robinson Center in Little Rock is named in honor of him.
  • The name "Trail of Tears" comes from an 1831 article in the Arkansas Gazette. When a group 9of Choctaw Indians passed through Little Rock, the chief told a reporter the forced migration was a "trail of tears and death." The term "Trail of Tears" later became associated with the 1838-1839 removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma.