Exploring the Historic Districts at Buffalo National River

Buffalo National River 

Parker-Hickman Farmstead

Parker-Hickman home

NPS

Early settlers in the Ozarks built their farms in the fertile valleys. In the late 1830s the Parker brothers arrived from Tennessee and built their farmstead in the bottomlands of the Buffalo River. Using native red cedar logs and their carpentry skills they constructed a sturdy home and built a life for themselves in the Ozarks. The logs are hand hewn with half dovetail notches. These interlocking joints are typical of log homes found in southern Appalachia so it is no surprise that early pioneers brought these building techniques with them when they settled this region.

Additions were added onto the original cabin over the years. The last owners of the farm, the Hickman family, farmed here from 1912 until 1978 and built the outbuildings that can still be seen on the property. The logs in this house date back to the 1840s making it the oldest log structure in the park. This farm provides an excellent example of a typical Ozark farmstead and exhibits remarkable craftsmanship. The Parker-Hickman Farmstead is located near the Erbie Campground. 

Rush Historic District

Rush Historic District

NPS

The Rush Historic District draws park visitors to it even though the last residents moved away in the mid-1900s. The mining town of Rush began attracting prospectors as early as the 1880s and by 1890 the little town of Rush was big enough to have its own post office. While it was the hope of silver that originally lured prospectors to the area it was the large quantities of zinc that made people stay. There were ten mining companies in operation throughout the early 1900s with about a dozen mines producing zinc with names like Morning Star, Monte Cristo, Red Cloud and White Eagle.

During World War I, zinc prices rose dramatically as it was a necessary commodity used in the manufacturing of brass shell casings. Additionally, since zinc doesn’t corrode it was used as a liner in ammunition boxes, which was beneficial for those troops that were exposed to the salt air. 
At the height of the mining boom between two and three thousand people made their living and home in Rush making it one of the largest cities in northern Arkansas. Some estimates even put the population closer to 5,000 residents. At one point there were enough residents to support three hotels, restaurants, a pharmacy, a blacksmith shop, bakery, hardware store, pool halls, and seven barber shops. 

By 1917 the bottom was beginning to fall out of the mining industry and things only got worse as World War I came to an end. As zinc prices dwindled it became less and less cost effective to mine in this particular area. Through the years people tried to revive the mining town, but the attempts were unsuccessful in the long run. The Rush Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Last updated: March 27, 2015