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
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.