Exploring Pocahontas

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Quilt Wall in Pocahontas
Quilt Wall in Pocahontas

This northeast Arkansas Ozarks community has plenty for visitors to experience.  From historic sites to five rivers for outdoor adventure, Pocahontas is an Arkansas gem. Don't miss the Princess Pocahontas statue in honor of the town's namesake.

Day 1

Historic Pocahontas

Spend the day exploring the vast array of historic sites here. Downtown features a 17-block National Historic Commercial District comprised of structures that date between late 1800 and early 1900. Check out Futrell Pharmacy, the oldest pharmacy to stay in the same location, and the Sanitary Barber Shop, built in 1894, which has most of the original equipment and fixtures.

Several Civil War sites are located around town including the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail and the Pocahontas Confederate States of America headquarters site. During the war all Confederate troops west of the Mississippi (some 35,000) were stationed here.

Local and regional history is preserved in the Randolph County Museum, Eddie Mae Herron African-American Museum and Cultural Center, and a World War Flight Museum at nearby Walnut Ridge.

Additional historic sites of interest are the St. Paul’s Church and Grotto, the Century Wall, the Black River Overlook Park with seven historical markers, the large meteorite on the court square and the site of a gangland murder by Ma Barker and her gang.

Guided walking tours are available.

A variety of shops in town offer excellent shopping. You’ll find antiques, fine art, gifts, handmade items, and collectibles. At the Small Farm Fibers Woolen Mill you can watch wool being made then purchase the finished products. If jewelry is one of your interests then don’t miss Black River Beads and Opera House Jewelry. 

When you’re ready to eat, you’ll have more than 25 restaurants in the vicinity including local favorites Brenda’s Sale Barn Café (you’ve got to try the chocolate gravy!) and The Green Tomato Café.

Day 2

History and Outdoors

Pocahontas lays claim to many “firsts” in the state. Here is where the first courthouse, the first U.S. Post Office, the first U.S. Land Office, the first school, the first Baptist Church, the first Methodist circuit rider and the first Masonic Lodge were founded. Other Arkansas “firsts” are the first river ferry, first grist mill, first court, first circus performance, and first federally funded road.

What many believe to be the oldest standing log house in Arkansas, the Rice-Upshaw House, and the oldest standing business structure, Looney Tavern and Inn, are both located here. Reuben Rice built his home on the river in 1828. His relative, William Looney, constructed his tavern and inn in 1833 right across the river from the house. Both structures are undergoing renovation. Eleven Point River Guide service offers trips to view the tavern, which is currently only accessible by boat. Thought neither one are currently open to the public, the outside work in progress can be viewed.

Pittman’s Ferry, which was the first in the state, is an important Civil War site, located where the Old Southwest Trail enters Arkansas. Historic trails include a trail to where the ferry was located, the Southwest Trail, the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears and a Civil War trail from Smithville to Pocahontas. Just added is the Arkansas Rock ‘N’ Roll Highway 67 where you can follow in the tire tracks of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock and roll pioneers.

A Randolph County claim to fame is the five navigable rivers, more than any other Arkansas county. The Eleven Point, Black, Current, Spring and Fourche Rivers all flow through the area offering numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Don’t miss side trips to Maynard Pioneer Park and Museum, the Ravenden Springs Community Museum and the Good Earth Association Living Museum. Nearby Arkansas State Parks are Davidsonville and Powhatan Historic State Parks, Lake Charles and Mammoth Spring State Parks.