Best Historic Sites in the West South Central States Part Two In Arkansas vs Louisiana
Edited by Kathy McGraw
Along with Oklahoma and Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana form the region known as the West South Central region of the United States. Like Texas and Oklahoma, the expansionist spirit of the fledgling nation permeates the history of these states, although still with that syrupy southern charm.
Method 1: In Arkansas
Arkansas was part of the land acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. As such, it was among the earliest settlements in the western frontier, although it also has strong southern roots and seceded from the Union along with the other Confederate States in the Civil War.
- 2Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. Little Rock Central High School was at the forefront of the fight to desegregate the schools during the civil rights movement. It was there than in 1957, the first African American students were allowed into what had formerly been a "whites only" high school. Federal troops escorted the nine students into the school, which had been barricaded against them by Governor Orval Faubus and the Arkansas National Guard.Advertisement
- 4Lester and Haltom Number 1 Well Site, Ouachita County. Lester and Haltom No. 1 is the first oil well in Arkansas to actually produce the black gold. It "blew" on April 20, 1920, years after the first oil well was drilled back in the state back in 1887.
- 5Arkansas Post National Memorial, near Pine Bluff. Although you may not think of Arkansas when you think about the American Revolution, an important Revolutionary War battle occurred there. Arkansas belonged to the French and then later, the Spanish following the French and Indian War in the middle 18th century. The Spanish sided with the American colonists, and on April 17, 1783, the last battle of the American Revolution was fought there when the British attacked the fort.
- 7Judge Isaac C Parker Federal Building and US Courthouse, Fort Smith. It was in this location that the famed Judge Issac C. Parker sentenced many criminals to be executed by hanging. You can see the courtroom where he made his rulings and even the gallows outside where the men were hung.
- 9Hot Springs National Park. The Hotsprings National Park was established in 1921, but long before that, the Native peoples believed the hot mineral water to have healing properties. Over the years, people have journeyed to the region to take advantage of the healing waters. The Bathhouse Row Historic District is part of this park.
- 10Fort Smith National Historic Site. Fort Smith served as an important western frontier fort, originally established in in 1817 to keep the peace between the warring Cherokee and Osage tribes. During the Civil War, it was briefly occupied by the Confederates before being retaken by the Union and after that served as the base of operations for Judge Issac Parker, the famous Hanging Judge.
- 11Battle of Cane Hill, off Highway 45. The Battle of Cane Hill occurred in November of 1862, when Union forces led by Brigadier General James G. Blunt, clashed with Confederate forces led by Colonel Jo Shelby and Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke. Roving over hills and valleys, the two sides fought a protracted battle, a battle that lasted much longer than it should have given that the Union troops outnumbered the Confederates by a good number.
Method 2: In Louisiana
Louisiana was part of the large tract of land that the French sold to the Americans in 1803. Having first been a French colony, the state, and especially its signature city, New Orleans, retain a strong French flavor. The Acadian people from what is now northeastern Canada who migrated there also have had an enormous impact on the culture of the state.
- 1New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Back in the days before modern medical training, pharmacists made their own medicines mostly by guesswork and what they had learned from other pharmacists. This museum explores the history of that time, featuring hand-blown glass jars with various medicines, odd surgical tools, and other relics of that long-ago time.Advertisement
- 2New Orleans French Quarter. When you picture New Orleans, the French Quarter is probably what you think about. It is one of the oldest sections of this venerable city, and Louisiana's French Creole heritage shines there. Don't be in a hurry when you go, for life is very laid back and the food is delicious.
- 4Vermillionville, Lafayette. Vermillionville is a living history exhibit showcasing the culture and crafts of the Acadian people who settled in what is now the state of Louisiana. Costumed interpreters perform tasks as the Acadians did back in the 18th and 19th centuries and conduct presentations into how the Acadians lived and their history. You can also see arts and crafts from that period on display as well.
- 10Poverty Point, near Delhi. The North American continent existed long before it was "discovered" by the Europeans, and Poverty Point represents one of the most significant archaeological finds of the ancient civilizations that lived there long ago. It consists of a ceremonial earthworks site from the Late Archaic period, roughly 4000 to 2500 BP.
- 11Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church, Saint Martinville. Although the Catholic Church of St. Martin was established in 1765, the existing building dates back to 1836. Inside, you will find a replica of the Grotto of Lourdes, which was built in 1883, and the grave of Emmeline Labiche, who many thought to be the heroine of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Evangeline."
- 12Laura Plantation, Vacherie. Laura Plantation was a sugarcane plantation in antebellum Louisiana. The home was built in 1805 and is modeled after the Creole style. Along with the main house, you can explore the outbuildings and see how a sugar cane plantation worked back then.
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