Great River Road in Arkansas captures the imagination. Look out over the river, and try to comprehend the complex layers of history that have been acted out along its banks. Reflect on the large communities of the Hopewell Indian culture -- the most complex society in North America (circa A.D. 700 to 1400) -- and early French colonial settlements and fortifications.
Or reflect on the frightened, cautious, and optimistic eyes of slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad. Watch as nearly 15 percent of the nation's shipping passes through the river's complex system of locks and dams. And look upward and see that the river flows under the spreading wings of the newly thriving American bald eagle.
The Arkansas section of the Great River Road has some varied architectural highlights. You will want to be sure to see them as you travel from north to south on the southern part of the byway.
Marianna: Begin in Marianna at the Chamber of Commerce, and pick up a map of the walking tour of the historic downtown district. Around 45 of the buildings here are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also in Marianna is the Missouri-Pacific railroad depot, built in 1915.
Helena: Helena is a fascinating port town with a mixture of Mississippi River charm, blues music, Civil War history, and a generous blend of building styles.
Helena's Delta Cultural Center tells the story of this area. Also downtown is the Cherry Street Pavilion, a former theater with grand Spanish Colonial Revival detailing, and more.
First United Methodist Church: In DeWitt is the First United Methodist Church. It is an excellent example of Charles Thompson architecture.
Rohwer Relocation Center: Though only a few scattered building foundations and the cemetery remain, the Rohwer Relocation Center had a very basic functional style of architecture. The camp was opened in 1942 to intern Japanese American evacuees from California during World War II. The Rohwer Memorial Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark.
Arkansas City: Arkansas City is one of the few remaining examples of an old Mississippi River town in eastern Arkansas. A walking tour of the historic downtown area yields a variety of building styles.
Eudora: Eudora has some interesting sites. The Dr. A. G. Anderson House is a restored 1901 home. The Rubye and Henry Connerly Museum offers a quaint bit of local history in a historic grocery store. And the American Legion Post is a 1934 rustic-style structure.
This drive traverses the rivers, lakes, and swamps of the Arkansas delta, offering a unique look at a southern culture making the transition from agriculture to modern industry.
Find more useful information related to Arkansas' Great River Road:
- Arkansas Scenic Drives: The Great River Road is just one of the scenic byways in Arkansas. Check out the others.
- Great River Road in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois: The Great River Road also spans these states. Check out these scenic drives.
- Lake Village, McGhee, Osceola, West Memphis: Find out what there is to do in these cities along the Great River Road in Arkansas.
- Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Arkansas? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
- How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.