20th Century

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Symbolizing both Arkansas's progress since settlement and the state's future promise, a new Capitol was built, hosting its first legislative session in 1911.

You can visit the Arkansas Railroad Museum of Pine Bluff to learn how the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad continued to expand during the 20th Century. New bridges were built, such as the Cotter Rainbow Bridge and the St. Francis River Bridge, sometimes replacing long-time ferries. (Visit the Moro Bay Ferry exhibit in Moro Bay State Park.) In 1924, the first major hydroelectric dam in Arkansas was completed. Beginning in the late 1940s, numerous large lakes created by damming streams, such as the Greers Ferry Dam, located in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains dramatically altered the landscape.

Difficulties also arose. The Arkansas Flood of 1927 inundated one-fifth of Arkansas. Following quickly came droughts and during the Great Depression of the 1930s, during which the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed Petit Jean State Park that served as the beginning of the state parks system.

You can visit the Arkansas Air Museum of Fayetteville to learn about how air travel became more common after World War II. The Arkansas River Navigation Project's locks and dams, built from 1956 to 1971, enhanced commerce on the stream.

The nation's eyes were focused on Little Rock Central High School in the fall of 1957, where nine African-American teenagers stood bravely at the center of a conflict that would become one of the earliest victories of the modern civil rights movement.

At century's end, Bill Clinton of Arkansas would twice be elected U.S. President. He was born and lived his early years in Hope, spent his boyhood in Hot Springs, taught law in Fayetteville and served as governor in the Capitol built as the century began.