Places To Go in Arkansas
Historic sites or interpretive facilities on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Arkansas that you can visit:
(Updated May 16, 2014)
Bell's Route Segment, Village Creek State Park, outside of Forrest City
Location: Village Creek State Park is located in Cross and St. Francis counties, northeast of Forrest City. The Bell's Route segment in the park is part of the old Memphis to Little Rock military road. Today, the east-west "military road trail" segment - located approximately one mile south of the park's visitor center and just south of Lake Austell - is used as a recreational trail.
Telephone: (870) 238-9406 (Village Creek State Park)
Historical Significance:The Memphis to Little Rock Road was completed in 1829 and provided the first improved route between Memphis and Little Rock. During the early to mid-1830s, this trail witnessed the removal of Creek and Chickasaw Indians. In the late fall of 1838, John Bell led a detachment of some 650 Cherokee along this route on the way from eastern Tennessee to the Arkansas-Indian Territory border. Due to the easily erodible soil along this route, the present trail is between 6 and 10 feet lower than it was during the period of the various Native migrations.
To learn more: www.arkansasstateparks.com/villagecreek/default.aspx
Delta Cultural Center, Helena
Locations: 141 Cherry Street and 95 Missouri Street, both in downtown Helena.
Telephone: (870) 338-4350 or (800) 358-0972
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Historical Significance: Helena, located along the Mississippi, witnessed the forced migration of thousands of Cherokee along the "water route" to Indian Territory during the summer of 1838.
Available Facilities: The cultural center has two main facilities: the visitor center (on Cherry Street) and the depot (on nearby Missouri Street)
Exhibits: The depot contains two major permanent exhibits. One of these, called "A Heritage of Determination," depicts the Arkansas Delta from prehistory to the present. Included are two exhibits that interpret the Indian removal period, specifically as they impacted the local Quapaw.
To learn more: www.deltaculturalcenter.com
Fitzgerald Station and Farmstead, Springdale
Location: 2327 Old Wire Road, northeast of Springdale
Telephone: private property
Hours: closed to the public
Historical Significance: John Fitzgerald and his family moved to this site between 1828 and 1833. Soon afterward, they built an inn and tavern along the so-called military road that ran in front of their property; these businesses were well known by the late 1830s. Approximately 8,000 Cherokee passed by this site along the Northern Route during 1838-39. This tavern was mentioned in the diary of B.B. Cannon, who with a contingent of 365 Cherokee passed by here in December 1837; it was also noted in the diary of William Morrow, a doctor with the Taylor Detachment who camped here in March 1839. Later, the barn was built as a stage stop. Fitzgerald's Station was a stage stop for the Butterfield Stage line in the late 1850s to early 1860s.
Available Facilities: The original barn that was built for the stage line is still standing, and it is one of the very few original buildings that still exist along the historic Butterfield Stage route. The property also holds a house that was built in the 1870s. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2003.
Exhibits: Two historical markers are situated at the entrance to the property.
To learn more: www.uark.edu/campus-resources/archinfo/fitz.html
Lake Dardanelle State Park, Russellville
Location: The park's address is 100 State Park Drive in Russellville, Pope County. The park is located at 2428 Marina Road, which is four miles west of Russellville, off State Highway 326.
Phone: (479) 967-5516
Historical Significance: The Western Cherokee settled near here in the late 1700s, and established towns, plantations, and the Dwight Mission School. Almost 50 years later, the Trail of Tears brought all five tribes through here by water or land. The park is an NPS-certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. This is one of the few locations where stories of all five tribes can be told.
Available Facilities: Lake Dardanelle State Park offers a wide range of recreation opportunities, including fishing, swimming, picnicking, boating, and camping. A visitor center offers interpretive displays. The park is operated by the Department of Parks and Tourism, Arkansas State Parks Division. Lake Dardanelle is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Exhibits: The Trail of Tears is interpreted in visitor center exhibits and one outdoor exhibit. The lake includes the historic and modern channels of the Arkansas River, which are part of the water route of the Trail of Tears.
Special Programs: Interpretive programs include guided hikes, nature talks, demonstrations, and evening slide shows and movies. Off-season programs and hikes are available, and groups may request special programs in advance.
La Petite Roche (“The Little Rock”)
Location: in the vicinity of Junction Bridge and at the foot of Rock Street, Little Rock
Telephone: (501) 371-4770 (Julius Breckling Riverfront Park)
Historical Significance: La Petite Roche, the namesake for the city surrounding it, was a natural landmark near the city’s early day boat landing. The rock itself is greatly reduced from its former size. To commemorate the importance of the rock, the landing area, and various early historical events, a number of markers have been installed nearby; some decades ago, others recently.
Available Facilities and Exhibits: The Julius Breckling Riverfront Park, within which La Petite Roche is located, stretches eleven (11) blocks on the south bank of the Arkansas River in the downtown area. Riverfront Park provides large areas for outdoor events, leisure activities, and a glimpse of the state's history.
To learn more: www.littlerock.org/parksrecreation/parks/details.aspx?id=13
Mount Nebo State Park, near Dardanelle
Location: 16728 West State Highway 155, four miles west of Dardanelle.
Telephone: (479) 229-3655
Historical Significance: Scenic overlooks at Sunrise Point and Sunset Point provide dramatic vistas of the Arkansas River, the water route of the Congressionally-designated National Historic Trail of Tears. It also overlooks the area where the Western Cherokee settled in the late 1700s.
Available Activities: camping, cabins, trails
North Little Rock Riverfront Park, North Little Rock
Location: North bank of Arkansas River between Main St. Bridge and Interstate 30 Bridge, North Little Rock.
Historical significance: The site is located in the immediate vicinity of a large number of (north-south) land migration routes and (east-west) water migration routes for the Cherokee and other southeastern tribes during the 1830s and 1840s.
Available Facilities: On the path of the Arkansas River Trail (pedestrian and bicycling path)
Exhibits: Seven interpretive panels commemorating the Cherokee Trail of Tears and similar forced migrations by the other Four Civilized Tribes
Petit Jean State Park, Morrilton
Location: 1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road, Morrilton.
Telephone: (501) 727-5441
Historical Significance: Overlooks at the east and west ends of Petit Jean Mountain provide dramatic vistas of the Arkansas River, the water route of the Trail of Tears, a Congressionally-designated national historic trail.
Available Activities: cabins, camping, hiking, overlooks, swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking
Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Little Rock
Location: 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road, Little Rock (park is 15 miles west of Little Rock)
Telephone: (501) 868-5806
Hours: sunrise to sunset
Historical Significance: This 1,011-foot peak has been a landmark overlooking the Arkansas River for centuries. Native Americans undoubtedly saw it as they moved up the river by boat. Overlooks at the park visitor center provide spectacular views of the water route of the Trail of Tears, a Congressionally-designated national historic trail.
Available Activities: hiking, wildlife observation, picnicking, arboretum
Did You Know?
Not all Cherokee people were removed from their homelands to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) on the Trail of Tears. The Oconaluftee Cherokees had treaty rights, and they, along with fugitives fleeing the army, became the Eastern Band of Cherokees, still residing in North Carolina.