Visit an Arkansas Ghost Town on Halloween Weekend

Downtown Calico Rock
Downtown Calico Rock

If you’re looking for something to do outdoors this weekend and are still in the Halloween spirit, visit a ghost town. Here are two in northern Arkansas worth exploration that will also take you into beautiful countryside for fall color too.

Calico Rock

Located directly on the White River in Izard County, Calico Rock developed as a steamboat landing in the early 1800s, and became a boomtown in 1902 when the railroad tracks were laid. It was the largest town in Izard County through the 1960s. However, neighboring towns grew faster, leaving this once important river port with a population of about 1,500 today. But Calico Rock still has plenty of appeal for visitors, and all ages making it their home.

It is a draw especially to retirees and tourists looking for a breath of fresh air, small town living, and tons of trout. Its ghost town and attractive, old-fashioned downtown storefronts entertain visitors too.

Its historic Main Street hosts thousands of visitors each year. Brick and stone buildings from the 1920s flank the street for a few blocks. They are home to antique stores, a museum and various stores. Additional shopping is available in more modern parts of town.

Just steps away from this historic but thriving town center, is another lifetime of the town preserved. Calico Rock’s Ghost Town include a pool hall/tavern, a barber shop, a theater, a café, a lumberyard, the telephone exchange, a cotton gin, a funeral parlor, and an electric company.

The tour contains more than 20 different buildings and other structures, dilapidated yet holding a significant presence in the oldest part of town.

All but two can be seen from the street and markers tell the history of each. You can drive it, but it’s best seen on foot. 

This area is also part of Peppersauce Alley, although the original trade that gave it its name is no longer there. Calico Rock was a quite a shopping center in the early 1900s with a sawmill, and water-powered corn-grinding mill. Farmers would bring produce to Calico Rock and do their shopping there. Often they came from far enough away they would need to camp overnight in the wagon yard, which became known as Peppersauce Alley because of the moonshine whiskey traded there.

Calico Rock
Calico Rock

Rush Historic District

In the 1880s, zinc ore was discovered on Rush Creek and soon people were rushing to the area to stake a claim along Rush Valley and neighboring Clabber Creek. The mining boom town was well established by the 1890s and a community of homes and businesses developed along the most famous mine in the area, Morning Star Mine.

Its heyday was in World War I, but by World War II several of the processing mills were dismantled for salvage. The town hung on until the 1950s, when the post office closed. By the 1960s, any remaining inhabitants had left, leaving Rush a ghost town. Today, the remaining mines and buildings are part of the Buffalo National River managed by the federal park system. Rush is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Buildings in the Rush Historic District