Arkansas - History and Heritage

The Ozark Mountains were where many American pioneers did a whole lot of hard living. The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale pays tribute to the men and women who eked out a place for themselves in rural communities in the area. The museum has thousands of artifacts and some 150,000 photographs that give a sense of folk-life in the Ozarks.

At the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, visitors get the opportunity to learn pioneer skills first hand. More than a dozen demonstrations are held each day, so visitors walk away knowing the rudiments of furniture making, quilting, blacksmithing, tintype photography, woodcarving and ceramics.

The railroad, which brought industry to Arkansas as well as the immigrant populations that would tame its prairie, is still an exciting way to see the state's scenery. The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad carries its passengers over the Boston Mountains in authentically restored, turn-of-the-century cars for a 134-mile trek to Springdale and historic Van Buren. Conductors aboard share stories about the area's history and growth as they steer the train over high trestles, bridges and the 1882 Winslow Tunnel.

In the Parkin Archaeological State Park of eastern Arkansas, the most intact village from the indigenous northeast Arkansas tribes exists. A 17-acre community thrived here from A.D. 1000 to 1550. Historians believe the site was the village of Casqui, which Hernando de Soto visited and wrote about in his journals dating back to 1541. As the state was settled increasingly over the next several hundred years, the village was largely destroyed—all that remains intact is a large land mound on the riverbank—but the visitors center and exhibits that have been built at the site will leave visitors with a greater understanding of one of the first native communities of Arkansas.

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