Texarkana

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About Texarkana

Texarkana is in Miller County and is named after three states: Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The two separate municipalities, Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, sometime function as one city. The State Line Post Office and Federal Building at 500 State Line Avenue is the only U.S. post office situated in two states. It is said to be the most photographed courthouse in the country after the Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C.

Several regional Caddo groups farmed the area thousands of years before the city was created. Cahohadacho village, the last of their settlements, was abandoned in the mid 1700s.  Some say the Indian hunting trails that connected the villages were the basis for what came to be known as the Southwest Trail.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Caddo had left the area. In the late 1850s, the builders of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad laid tracks in the state, completing the railway to the Texas border in 1873.

That same year, a group met on the Texas side to organize Texarkana, Texas. Texarkana, Arkansas became a town in 1880. Both cities grew throughout the 1890s.  Both towns grew and prospered until the Great Depression of the 1930s. The town’s economy rebounded with the coming of World War II. Along with being an important junction of railroad lines, Texarkana built a strong economy based on timber and agricultural crops.

State Line Avenue, the main street, was laid out to lie on the dividing line between the two states. Each side has a mayor, and there are two city councils and city staffs.

Attractions on the Arkansas side include the Tex-Arkansas Antique Auto Museum and The Draughon/Moore Ace of Clubs House, probably best known because of the local legend of being built in 1885 with the money won with the draw of a lucky poker hand. The Italianate Victorian style building features a floor plan (the only place in the world with this plan) that is said to have beem inspired by the lucky card of mention- the ace of club. Inside, a central octagon serves as the rotunda of the house with rooms arranged around it. The home, located at 420 Pine St, was built by Captain James Draughon. Eventually (in 1894) the home was sold to an attorney in town, Henry Moore, and the home stayed in the same family for almost 100 years. In 1985 the home became a museum.  The Texarkana Museums System operates the home plus the historic Museum of Regional History (based in the oldest Texarkana building) and the interactive children’s Discovery Place Museum.

The Perot Theater, which first opened in 1924, can also be found in town. Classic stars such as Will Rogers and Annie Oakley performed here as well as other popular acts due to the town’s prime location as a bustling railroad town. Having performers come through wasn’t new for the town as from it’s founding days traveling Chatauqua companies would put up tents in town, perform, and leave the next day. The theater was built by the Saenger family of New Orleans and the name was changed to Paramount after being purchased by the company in the 1930’s. The theater went into a slow decline leading to a closure in 1977. Rebirth happened when the city purchased the building for a mere $19,000. Restoration ensured thanks in part to a hefty contribution from Texarkana native H. Ross Perot and the theater was renamed in honor of his parents. The versatile theater now hosts National and International productions as varied as the Moscow Classical Ballet to Much Ado About Nothing. If you go, the theatre is located at 219 Main Street and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is run by The Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council (TRAHC), which also operates the nearby Texarkana Regional Arts Center which hosts national, regional and local gallery exhibits year-round.

Also in town is the Scott Joplin Mural, which pays homage to master ragtime composer and Texarkana native Scott Joplin. Joplin received a Pulitzer Prize (awarded after his death) for his work and is probably best known for composing the popular Maple Leaf Rag. Other nearby attractions in the area include Millwood State Park and Historic Washington State Park.