Historic Sites
Learn through history by visiting interesting historic sites around the state of Arkansas. Historic sites let you put a real face on the history that you've read about, making it more exciting for you and your children.
Historic Sites in Arkansas
Old State House Museum
Set in the oldest surviving state capitol west of the Mississippi River, the Old State House Museum has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The museum houses a multimedia museum of Arkansas state history, with emphasis on women's history, political history, and educational programming for school children. The Little Rock museum also boasts collections of Civil War battle flags, the inaugural gowns of governors' wives, Arkansas art pottery, and African-American quilts.
Historic Arkansas Museum
The Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock explores frontier history. Tour the museum's historic grounds and visit a pre-civil war neighborhood, including the oldest home still standing in Little Rock and the site where William Woodruff once printed the Arkansas Gazette. Interact with a living history character and see first-hand how early residents lived. Inside the Museum Center, explore Arkansas-made art and artifacts in four exhibit galleries, see contemporary Arkansas art in the Trinity Gallery, and watch kids having fun in the interactive children's gallery. Shop for quilts and other contemporary crafts in the Museum Store, and see the award-winning introductory video in the theater.
Fort Smith National Historic Site
At Fort Smith National Historic Site you can walk where soldiers drilled, pause along the Trail of Tears, and stand where justice was served. The park includes the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Exhibits in the visitor center focus on Fort Smith’s military history from 1817 – 1871, western expansion, Judge Isaac C. Parker and the federal court’s impact on Indian Territory, U.S. Deputy Marshals and outlaws, Federal Indian policy, and Indian Removal including the Trail of Tears. Located on the grounds are the foundation remains of the first Fort Smith (1817-1824), the Commissary building (c. 1838) and a reconstruction of the gallows used by the federal court. A walking trail along the Arkansas River includes wayside exhibits on the Trail of Tears.
Hot Springs National Park
Congress established Hot Springs Reservation on April 20, 1832 to protect hot springs flowing from the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain. This makes it the oldest area currently in the National Park System--40 years older than Yellowstone National Park. People have used the hot spring water in therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. The reservation eventually developed into a well-known resort nicknamed "The American Spa" because it attracted not only the wealthy but also indigent health seekers from around the world. Today the park protects eight historic bathhouses with the former luxurious Fordyce Bathhouse housing the park visitor center. The entire "Bathhouse Row" area is a National Historic Landmark District that contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America.
Arkansas Post National Memorial
In 1686, Henri de Tonti established a trading post known as "Poste de Arkansea" at the Quapaw village of Osotouy. It was the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. Over the years, the Post relocated as necessary due to flooding from the Arkansas River, but its position always served of strategic importance for the French, Spanish, American, and Confederate military. Arkansas Post became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. By 1819, the post was a thriving river port and the largest city in the region and selected as the first capital of the Arkansas Territory. Today, the memorial and museum are located outside of Gilett and commemorate the multi-layered and complex history of the site. Located on a peninsula bordered by the Arkansas River and two backwaters, the site offers excellent fishing and wildlife watching opportunities.
Pea Ridge National Military Park
Pea Ridge National Military Park is a 4,300 acre Civil War Battlefield that preserves the site of the March 1862 battle that saved Missouri for the Union. The park also includes a two and one half mile segment of the Trail of Tears. The Elkhorn Tavern, site of bitter fighting on both days, is a NPS reconstruction on the site of the original. The park is one of the most well preserved battlefields in the United States.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
In 1957, Little Rock Central High School was the location of one of the first conflicts during the process to integrate American schools. Nine African-American high school students faced an angry mob of over 1,000 whites protesting the integration of the school. The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered 1,200 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell to escort the nine students into the school. This event, watched by the nation and world, was the site of the first important test for the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954.
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