Friday, July 20, 2012

Railroad Depots Plus (#3) – Arkansas

It’s time for a bit more railroad nostalgia plus a little history and miscellaneous facts.  As we drove the back roads up and down NW Arkansas, we passed through some interesting and attractive small towns.  We really enjoy the ‘little things’ and related experiences encountered as we explore the USA. 

This is the former Missouri-Pacific and later Union Pacific railroad depot in Ozark Arkansas.  This depot was built in 1911 and it’s now included in the National Register of Historic Places.  It’s now in use as the Ozark Area Depot Museum, displaying items from the area’s past as well as railroad memorabilia. 

To me, this is a sad photograph…a handsome railway depot completely fenced off from its original reason for existence…  I realize that it’s a safety issue, but it just looks wrong to me!

The town of Ozark has a population of a little over 3,500.  Factoid of little importance: During the first season of the Reality TV Series, “The Simple Life”, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie worked at the local Sonic Drive-In for a short time.

I took this photo… I just liked the view, lonely tracks stretching off toward the bridge over the Arkansas River in the distance.

Another factoid: Late night host Craig Ferguson came through here at some point after his arrival in the USA and then he said some nice things about the town on one of the talk shows.  He was made an honorary citizen of Ozark…inspiring his process towards US citizenship.  A bit later he financed a bond to build a turf field for the high school football team.

That little structure serves as the railroad station and weekend open-air market for Winslow Arkansas.  Winslow was founded as a stagecoach stop and it was originally named Summit Home because it was at the summit of the road from the Rogers/Bentonville area through the Boston Mountains south to Ft. Smith.  The town was renamed after the then President of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad, Edward F. Winslow, when the railway came to town.

Wait a minute!  I did say that that open air structure serves as the railroad station…not that it was the old railroad station.  For more on travel by rail to Winslow, read the last segment of this blog regarding Van Buren Arkansas…

This is the Winslow Mercantile.  It’s open one Saturday per month and serves as a gathering place for tourists and the locals.  Refreshments are sold as well as a few souvenirs.  The store is loaded with old signs plus a lot of collectibles.  Some of it is for sale but it is fun to browse through the aisles.

Factoid: Winslow was a filming location for the movie, “Frank and Jesse”.

So while in the Winslow Mercantile, I bought this town's centennial tile depicting the railroad coming to town.  Winslow wasn’t  incorporated until 1905 despite the fact that the town was settled much earlier.  The most important date for Winslow was the day in 1882 that the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad completed the 1,702’ long, (quarter mile), Winslow Tunnel.   That allowed the railroad to run south through the Boston Mountains to Ft. Smith…and it opened up commerce for Winslow.  Today the town has only about 400 residents…

Laurie bought a split oak market basket with oak handle ( sorry, no photo) made by local resident, Randy Gibson in 2010.  He is famous for his excellent made oak baskets.  Sorry to add,...Mr. Gibson has since died.   The Mercantile only had two baskets left...So Laurie was very pleased to have purchased one of the only remaining baskets of Randy Gibsons!

The Van Buren Arkansas depot is near the southern end of the line for the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad.  The railroad has a 150 mile route from Monett MO to Ft. Smith AR.  Van Buren is close to Ft. Smith and with a population of roughly 23,000, it is part of the metropolitan statistical area.  The depot itself was built by the Frisco Railroad in the early 1900’s.   

The good news is that this is an active passenger station!  The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad is one of the few railroads that handles freight and also runs passenger trains.  Most passenger trains are operated on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Trains run between Van Buren and Winslow and then Winslow and Springdale. For more information on this scenic ride on the rails through the Boston Mountains and the Winslow Tunnel, just go to
Van Buren was founded as a river port on the Arkansas River.  It was named after the newly appointed Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren.  Of course, he later became the 8th President of the United States.  The town was incorporated as a city back in 1842.  For more about the city of Van Buren, especially as regards the Civil War, go to the following Arkansas resource site for tourists and newcomers.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing part of our road trip with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. You sure put a lot of research into this and now I'm off to look at your links.