One Tank Travels: A Historic Road Trip-Hope and Historic Washington State Park


We invite you to have “More Fun Per Gallon” in Arkansas this year. Each day we will be blogging on different Arkansas destinations which can be reached on one tank of gas or less. This is basically every corner of The Natural State. We hope these suggestions help you in planning a trip to remember.


Today’s Trip: A Historic Road Trip-Hope and Historic Washington State Park


Both Hope and Historic Washington State Park are beacons for history buffs. The good news is they are only about 10 miles apart from each other so they are a good target for a road trip. The below outlines a packed day that combines both towns.  On a side note, this is a lot to fit into one day so making this a two day excursion is always an option for those that want to spend more time in either destination. As a reference point, Hope is located around 85 miles from Hot Springs. 


Start the journey: Hope
This small town has two claims to fame: it is the birthplace of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and it showcases some of the world’s largest watermelons. It is home to the famous Hope Watermelon Festival every August. Yum!



Hope Visitor Center and Museum– This is a good first stop in town. It’s a good place
to ask directions and also to get a quick taste of the history of the town.
The museum is located in the restored 1912 railroad depot at Division and Main Streets. It contains exhibits on the town’s history ( with lots of Clinton information of course!) as a railway center for the cotton economy in earlier times and it’s on-going production of giant watermelons.
A quick side note: the town was also home to Paul W. Klipsch, an audio engineer who
manufactured his world-famous loudspeakers there. If you’ve never heard of Klipsch, he was quite a renaissance man. Here are more details about him in case you might want to learn more.


President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site- The two-story white frame house (which belonged to Clinton’s grandparents) on South Hervey Street was where Clinton lived from his birth in 1946 until age four. The house is furnished with items that date to time period when Clinton lived there.   Here is an article to learn more details about this historic home.
The site is located at 117 S. Hervey Street.Through the end of June, the park is also hosting Biking Through History Tours. During these tours, park rangers lead an approximately 4 mile, 1 to 1 ½ hour bicycle tour covering 5 different locations in town that were points of interest in President Clinton’s childhood.


If you might be getting hungry, you can refuel at one of these places to eat:

Continue on to Historic Washington State Park in the town of Washington. The park is nine miles northwest of Hope via U.S. 278.

Here is where you can get a huge history fix in. Here is a quick rundown: The town of Washington was founded in 1824 on the Southwest Trail just 15 miles from the Red River, which then separated American lands from the Mexican territory known as Texas. Because of its border proximity, Washington played a role in Texas’s 1835-36 war for independence. Evidence suggests that Sam Houston and others discussed plans for the revolt while Houston resided in one of the town’s taverns in 1834. The town also served as Arkansas’s Confederate capital after Union forces captured Little Rock in 1863.

Today, Washington, which is a National Register of Historic Places site, is both a state park and town intermingled.

 Historic Washington State Park , which was created in 1973, is a restoration village preserving the 19th-century town, which figured prominently in Arkansas and Southwest U.S. history.
The state park preserves and showcases the town’s architecture, history and pioneer
culture. Park visitors can get a sense of 19th- century life in Arkansas by taking historic tours and experiencing interpretive programs and demonstrations throughout the town. There are over 40 structures that date from the 1830s into the early 1900s. Authentic and furnished historic houses provide a glimpse of domestic life and contain many 19th century treasures such as furniture and ceramics.
There are many options of what you can explore while there. Noted attractions include the 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse that served as the Confederate capitol, the re-construction of a period blacksmith shop where the original Bowie knife was forged, the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum, and a print museum showcasing 19th- century printing techniques.
The park also teaches blacksmithing!


In addition to daily tours, the park is home base to an interesting mix of workshops and events throughout the year. In June, they have their Music in the Park event ( June 16), Surrey Tours, and The Art of Candle Making, Interpretive guides offer a variety of programming throughout the park, from tours of the sites to living history demonstrations. There is always have daily programming available too. More details on pricing and such can be found here.

The park also hosts archeological surveys. This summer, Mr. Jamie Brandon of the Arkansas Archeological Survey and his team will lead a Summer Dig Program there.

If you need to refuel during any part of your historic adventure, the park also has Williams’ Tavern Restaurant, which serves country fare food daily (from 11-3).

Also, if you might want to stay overnight somewhere before heading home, there are options in Hope.




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