Randolph County Preserves its Rich History

Published By:Cathy Drew Date:

Randolph County is a treasure chest of early Arkansas history. Within twenty miles of Pocahontas, the county seat, visitors will find the sites of thirteen historical ranging from the early territorial years through the introduction of statehood and into the Civil War era. Pocahontas, settled in 1807, is home to a sixteen block National Historic District that includes architectural masterpieces like the 1872 Victorian Italianate Courthouse. Pocahontas is also the site of the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail along the Black River in Overlook Park. On a lighter note, Arkansas’ first Quilt Trail, sixty-two nearly full-size images of heritage quilts, covers the sides of buildings in the historic district.  The district also includes the site of of the oldest pharmacy in Arkansas (since 1852), now housing Futrell’s Pharmacy, and the oldest continuously operating barbershop, the 1893 Sanitary Barbershop.

The community has been active in restoring structures that represent the early history of the county: the 1828 Rice House is Arkansas’ oldest standing log structure and the 1833 Looney Tavern on the banks of the Eleven Point River.  Both sites are available for group tours; contact Black River Technical College (870-892-4565) to make a reservation. The rich and well-preserved history of Randolph County and Pocahontas is also preserved and shared in four museums: the Randolph County Heritage Museum on the Old Curt Square in Pocahontas, the Maynard Pioneer Museum and Park, the Ravenden Springs Community Museum, and the Eddie Mae Heron Center and Museum, which preserves, showcases, and celebrates the region’s African American heritage. Just eight miles south of Pocahontas, history buffs will also find the Davidsonville State Park and Museum; Davidsonville was Arkansas’ first planned town, as well as home to the first U.S. Post Office, first Courthouse, and first U.S. Land Office.

The county’s history is rivaled by its rivers. Randolph County is the only county in Arkansas with five navigable rivers.  The Black River flows through the Donaldson Wildlife Refuge and Pocahontas; it is fed by the Current River, a popular canoe stream with equally popular sandy beaches. The Fourche de Maux is an excellent fishing stream that also joins the Black River at Pocahontas. The Eleven Point River attracts outdoors enthusiasts with its pristine waters, perfect for canoeing, floating, and fishing. The Spring River, that flows down from Mammoth Springs, is renowned for both canoeing and fishing.
If you plan to stay a few days, your choices include cabins at both he Shady River Resort on the banks of Eleven Point River and Current River Beach and James Ranch and Lodge, also on the Eleven Point. If hunting is your pleasure, check out Buck Hollow Ranch, which offers both hunting and photographic safaris, a spring fed lake for fishing and a comfortable Lodge. Elk, deer, and wild turkeys are plentiful.

Downtown Pocahontas is a pleasant place to stroll and shop. Black River Beads and Pottery is an art lover’s delight with a great selection of hand-crafted items and frequent workshops. Also plan to visit the Gallery on the Square and the Camera Corner Studio, a showcase for photographic art. The Randolph Music theatre features live music (country, folk, gospel) every Friday evening. The Imperial Dinner theatre and Studio is well-known regionally for its Broadway style productions.

Randolph County maintains a full calendar of festivals and events.  The Eddie Mae Herron Center and Museum celebrates Black History Month each February with a variety of activities, demonstrations, and lectures. Pioneer Days at Maynard includes food, a craft fair, a pioneer dress contest, a parade, and live entertainment. The annual “Rock and Roll Highway 67 Music Festival features the Rock and  Rockabilly music of the 50’s and 60’s, period dress, kids games, crafts, contests, food, and fun for the entire family. The Rock and Roll Highway follows the same route travelled by Elvis, Roy Orbison, Narvell Felts, Levon Helm, Ace Cannon, and many other pioneers of rock’n’roll. A nationally recognized
member of the first generation of America’s unique musical style attends each year to perform a free concert.

Randolph County has one of the most engaged and informed tourism associations in the state.  For more information visit  www.seerandolphcounty.com.