Worth a Visit in Arkansas: Jacksonport State Park

Avenue St., Newport, Arkansas The romance of the Old South and the boisterous steamboat days lives on in this small,

Jacksonport State Park, Arkansas
The Mary Woods No. 2 steamboat plied the Mississippi, White, and Cache rivers to transport lumber for the Woods Lumber Company.

Avenue St., Newport, Arkansas

The romance of the Old South and the boisterous steamboat days lives on in this small, pretty park along a sweeping bend of the White River. Jacksonport began as a shipping point in the early 1800s and later became a busy steamboat port. Its glory days came to an end in 1891, when a new railroad line made nearby Newport the center of commerce and the county seat. From that time Jacksonport steadily declined. All of its buildings have vanished, many destroyed by floodwaters, except for the old Jacksonport Courthouse, which was refurbished following a 1997 tornado.

The stately courthouse, built in 1872 on a high, sturdy foundation of Arkansas limestone, has been restored and included on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now the focal point of the park, housing a museum of memorabilia and relics that trace the history of the community through the steamboat era. Other exhibits show local architecture and a 19th-century courthouse and clerk’s office. Moored at the steamboat landing across the levee from the courthouse—and maintained as though ready for a week’s cruise—is the Mary Woods No. 2, a white double-deck paddle boat.

Campsites and picnic tables are pleasingly situated on an open, grassy expanse along the river beneath a scattering of shade trees. The 154-acre park also boasts a sandy swimming beach, a boat ramp, a small woodland, and a lovely pecan grove.

–Park open year-round. Courthouse open Tues.–Sun.; paddle boat open Tues.–Sun., Apr.–Oct. Admission charged.

www.arkansasstateparks.com

(870) 523-2143

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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