Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Q is for Queen Wilhelmina Lodge


It's time again For ABC Wednesday. If you aren't participating in ABC Wednesday, you are missing out on a lot of fun.


Named after a Dutch monarch, Queen Wilhelmina Lodge is a lodging tradition of royal hospitality since 1898. Today's lodge is the third inn to grace this same spectacular setting atop Rich Mountain, just 13 miles from Mena.

The original Wilhelmina Inn was constructed of native stone and timber at a cost of $100,000. The building was illuminated by carbide lights and made for a glorious site as carriages topped Rich Mountain from the train stop at the base of mountain's north side. Thirty-five guest rooms graced the second floor, with at least four "water closets" to serve their guests. Maids and cooks were housed on the third floor. And, the glorious first floor was used as a place to socialize.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was to be crowned in September 1898. To honor the young Queen of the Netherlands, the magnificent structure was called "Wilhelmina Inn" in the vain hope she would visit.


The grand opening of the inn came on June 22, 1898. Soon, Wilhelmina Inn became known as the "Castle in the Sky." The grandeur of this renowned mountaintop inn with its breathtaking scenery, fine accommodations and exquisite service, however, was to last only a few short years. Less than three years after the opening of the lodge, the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad, facing enormous financial troubles, was sold. The lodge was abandoned and fell into disrepair.

In 1957 the Arkansas General Assembly created a new state park on the site where the old Wilhelmina Inn stood. Plans were soon underway to construct a new lodge on the site of the original inn.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the second inn opened its doors on June 22, 1963. Although less grand than the original hostelry, this lodge contained 17 guest rooms and a restaurant. Occupying the same site as the first inn, the second structure was built with some the rockwork still remaining from its predecessor. Operated for 10 years by the State of Arkansas as an Arkansas State Parks lodge, the facility was a popular travel attraction until, on the evening of November 10, 1973, a fire that began in the kitchen area destroyed it. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, but the building was totally destroyed.

To carry on this grand lodging tradition atop Rich Mountain, Arkansas State Parks lost no time in constructing a new lodge on the site, opening a new $3 million dollar state park lodge in 1975. Today, this lodge is the crowning attraction of Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Within walking distance of the lodge are a park amphitheater, playground, campground with 40 sites and a modern bathhouse, and hiking trails.

This is one of our favorite places to go. It is close enough that it doesn't take a lot of travel time, and the drive is beautiful anytime of the year.

Sky Boardwalk

One of our family's favorite things to do at the lodge is to ride the miniature train. We have been riding the train for almost 30 years. Here is a picture taken in 1981 with my mother, my wife Gina, and my daughter Cynda riding the train.

Queen Wilhelmina Train 1981

This picture was taken last summer while Gina and I were riding the train with my daughter Cynda and her daughters Autumn and Rebekah

Queen Wilhelmina Train 2008

A spectacular mountaintop setting. Breathtaking panoramic scenery. Royal hospitality. Queen Wilhelmina State Park is all this, and much more.



  1. Oh how I love Mena. Although I was a little disappointed when I finally decided to ride the miniature train :( I thought the ride would be longer. Queen Wilhelmina Lodge is a gorgeous place to go to relax and enjoy beautiful scenary. I remember just a few years ago they did not have internet or cable television in the lodge and now they have wi-fi and cable!

  2. Thanks for sharing all these informations. Excellent post and photos.

  3. What a beautiful post and wonderful to mention our Queen Wilhelmina. I was named after her!! Actually I was named after my grandma, who was named after the Queen. So indirectly ...
    Anyway this is a great post for Q.

  4. Your photo of the view from the lodge is spectacular.
    A great Q post.

    Bear((( )))

  5. What an interesting post. . .I can't help thinking this inn has lived several of its lives! Loved the view and the family photos. Great post!
    p.s. did the Queen ever visit after all?

  6. Please! I wanna go there!! Please!!!
    Loved the ABC coins!!!!!

  7. What a wonderful post... I'm in awe of that view!! WOW... that's spectacular!

  8. I LOVE this post! How interesting. I love the view. LOVE it like crazy. Who knew that Arkansas was so beautiful! Your wife, daughter and grandbabies are beautiful too! You make me want to visit your pretty state!

    Thank you for praying for Quince!

  9. is it still wednesday at your place? Happy ABC wednesday!

  10. lovely post .. thanks for the history, geography and imagery of the place and more for the family pics :)

  11. Very elegant building and a fascinating description

  12. Excellent post/photos about the lodge and environs, Richard. I had the pleasure of spending a weekend there, way back in the 70's, with a group of women bankers. I see that things have changed a bit at the Inn in the last 30 years, for the better, I'm sure.

  13. Great photos and interesting information.

  14. Wow, that's an incredible view from the lodge, makes you wanna fold a sheet of paper into a paper plane

  15. OMG, what a beautiful lodge! And the view, amazing!