Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Washington

Washington, Arkansas is a peaceful tree-shaded town and one of the most amazing historic places in Arkansas. The old town still looks like the 19th century with plank board sidewalks and streets that have never been paved.   Most of the town is now a part of Historic Washington State Park.  It is commonly referred to as Old Washington.

In the State Park there are over thirty restored historic structures including classic examples of Southern Greek Revival and Federal architecture, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and the oldest building built of hand-hewn timber.

From its establishment in 1826, Washington was an important stop on the rugged Southwest Trail for pioneers traveling to Texas. Frontiersmen James Bowie, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett all traveled through Washington on their way to the Alamo. Houston planned parts of the revolt strategy in a tavern in Washington during 1834.  James Black, a local blacksmith, is credited with creating the legendary Bowie knife carried by Jim Bowie at his blacksmith shop in Washington.

At the State Park they often have blacksmith demonstrations.  My wife enjoys watching blacksmiths at work. Her Grandpa was born in 1855 and was a blacksmith by trade in Stratton, Colorado. Her Dad said that when he was a boy, you could hear his anvil ringing all over town. When it quit ringing you better get home. It was time for supper.

Washington's history during the Civil War is fascinating.   Following the capture of Little Rock by the Union Army in 1863, the Confederate government moved the state government offices to Hot Springs for short time, then moved the state government to Washington, making it the Capital of Confederate Arkansas from 1863-1865. 

When the railroad was built that connected much of the state with Little Rock, it was eight miles from Washington.  Because it was no longer on the main travel route, Washington began a slow decline. The decline caused by most of the business moving to Hope, Arkansas, which was on the railroad, was the reason that Washington seems to stand still and lets modern visitors go back in time.

The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.


  1. I love this post. Amazing how being bypassed by the railroad led to a lot of towns decline but they were able to preserve their past. I love the backstory on the history.

  2. Great history and photos, - thanks for sharing. I really look forward to your posts.

  3. Nice picture of you Richie.
    I love all the history you are sharing with us.
    Reading all about the things that happened early in US history really points out how little I know or remember about it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. There was a recent JEOPARDY! question that revealed that a Bowie knife was NOT invented by Bowie!

  5. Very beautiful houses Richie! I always enjoy reading your posts. They are very educational!
    Have a great week!
    Wil,ABCW Team

  6. Hmm I like this place. Great for snaps

    PhenoMenon, ABCW Team

  7. A beautiful lOcatiOn, Rich! Wish I could visit and take my own photos. I enlarged yours and was very impressed!

    abcw team

  8. This is a city I would love to visit and walk back in time. I must add it to my travel wish list.

  9. Calling by from ABC Wednesday, loved the virtual tour of Old Washington.

  10. I love learning little bits of history that could easily be forgotten if not preserved by some dedicated people. Thank you for sharing.

  11. A trip back in time is always a pleasure. What wonderful pictures. Thanks so much for taking us on this tour.

  12. Traveling back in time is always fun. Thanks for taking us on this tour, and all the history behind the pictures.

  13. What a lovely and quaint place. Enjoyed the photos and information. Looks like a fun area to visit.

  14. Old Washington is beautiful! Like your wife, I love watching a Blacksmith work his magic on the iron and have lots of cast iron...a stove, many pots and pans, fireplace tools, and hooks/hangers.

  15. What a interesting, and pretty, place . I can see from your photos that the time to visit is spring with all the gorgeous daffodils. Love that anvil story of your wife's grandpa.