Tim Nutt is the interim head of special collections and more at the University of Arkansas Libraries in Fayetteville. Previously, he served as the founding managing editor and staff historian of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture and has been an Arkansas history fanatic since he was 16. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Summer is upon us and many families will be heading out on their annual vacations. As a kid, we did not take true vacations … we never went out of state or visited tourist sites. Instead, during the summer the family would go to northeast Arkansas to visit my grandparents and other relatives.
A few special times though, we did go to Magic Springs in Hot Springs and the now-defunct Dogpatch, U.S.A. near Jasper. I loved the log flume at Magic Springs and often wish I had a personal log flume in my back yard. Dogpatch was interesting and fun … and it is shame that it went by the wayside. I still have a picture of me standing by the statue of General Jubilation T. Cornpone,
This edition of “Are You Arkansavvy?” is about the tourist places in Arkansas that we should be visiting. In addition to supporting local culture, you’ll be learning more about the state’s history. So, get out your map and get in your car.
1. This state park, located outside of Murfreesboro, is the only diamond field where visitors can actually dig for gems and keep whatever they find.
2. This museum, located in southwestern Arkansas, is for those fans of Mousey Grey and Dick Huddleston, as well as the main characters to which this museum is dedicated.
3. Located in Bentonville, this new museum is well worth the visit and, not surprisingly, the admission price is a bargain.
4. Whether you believe the legend of the young French girl stowaway disguising herself as a boy or not, you’ll enjoy visiting this Central Arkansas park, located atop a mountain.
5. This museum in Lincoln is a good remedy for anything that ails you. One visit a day is not a substitute for visiting your GP, but it’s a good start.
6. This Little Rock museum is a good place to visit to learn more about the contributions of black Arkansans.
7. There’s hope when you’re looking for a museum to visit in Little Rock, and no, there aren’t any dresses on display.
8. This museum is for those car lovers. If you answered No. 4 correctly, you are in the right area to visit this museum so get in your car. Vroom, vroom.
9. At this museum in northeast Arkansas, you can see the moon, but the sun also rises there. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the bells toll.
10. This exotic 180-acre park in Gentry features a variety of animals for future Marlin Perkinses. Make sure you bring your car while visiting this Wild Kingdom.
1. Crater of Diamonds State Park. John Huddleston, a owner of the property, found the first diamonds in 1906, which started a rush to southwest Arkansas. After several failed commercial attempts to mine the field, the area became the part of the state park system in 1972. Today, it draws diamond-seekers from around the world. The largest diamond ever found at the park was the “Uncle Sam,” a 40.23-carat monster uncovered in 1924 by W.O. Basham.
2. Lum and Abner Museum and Jot-em-Down Store, dedicated to preserving the humor of Arkansas radio stars Chester “Lum Eddards” Lauck and Norris “Abner Peabody” Goff. Beginning in 1931 on local radio station KTHS, the two hatched up moneymaking schemes from their small fictional town of Pine Ridge, Arkansas, only to be regularly fleeced by Squire Skimps. They eventiually came out on top. Their radio show was picked up by NBC and was immensely popular for the next 20-plus years.
3. Crystal Bridges of American Art. The museum, the baby of Walmart heiress Alice Walton, opened in late 2011, after years of anticipation. Taking its name from nearby Crystal Springs and the bridge design of the building, the museum sits on 120 acres and features incredible artwork. The museum was pegged as one of the top 10 hottest travel destinations by Travel + Leisure.
4. Petit Jean State Park. The first state park in Arkansas, the legislation creating Petit Jean was passed in 1923. The park is famous for the Cedar Falls, which cascades 90 feet down to the Cedar Creek Canyon floor, as well as one of the largest Native American Bluff Shelters in the state and the CCC buildings still in use.
5. Arkansas Country Doctor Museum. Located in Washington County, the museum was established in 1994 by Dr. Harold Boyer to honor his father and the other physicians who served rural areas around the state. In total, the museum currently has information for 200 doctors.
6. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. This museum, one of the many under the auspices of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, preserves black history in Arkansas through exhibits and programs.
7. The William J. Clinton Presidential Center. The only presidential library in the state, this site is located on the banks of the Arkansas River and features not only exhibits on the Arkansas native and 42nd President of the United States, but on various other subjects.
8. Museum of Automobiles. Established in 1964 by late Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller atop Petit Jean Mountain, outside of Morrilton in Central Arkansas, the museum features his 1951 and 1967 Cadillacs, the latter with a sterling silver Santa Gertrudis hood ornament. Also included in the collection is a 1923 Climber, the product of Arkansas’ only car company, which operated in Little Rock from 1919-1923.
9. Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center. Restored and operated by Arkansas State University, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum preserves the family home of the Paul and Mary Pfeiffer and accompanying barn. Pauline, the daughter of Paul and Mary, was the second wife of novelist Ernest Hemingway. On their visits back to Piggott in Clay County to visit Pauline’s family, Hemingway spent time in the barn writing, which had been converted to a studio to give the writer privacy. Portions of A Farewell to Arms and some short stories were written by Hemingway while secluded in the barn in northeast Arkansas
10. Wild Wilderness Drive-thru Safari. The safari had its beginning in the early 1950s when Ross and Freda Wilmouth, soon after their marriage, established a small dairy farm. The Wimouths started a cross-breeding program between domestic cattle and American Buffalo in the 1960s and began raising elk and deer. Soon, visitors started flocking to the farm to view the animals. The family made a decision in the 1970s to include even more animals and the safari was born.