Saturday, October 29, 2022

DESTINATION: Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas

As we were traveling to Crater of Diamonds State Park, we took a wrong turn and ended up driving through an interesting little town that looked like it was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting - Old Washington, Arkansas, established in 1824.  

Historic Washington State Park Visitors Center Sign

On the third day of our trip, when we awoke to cooler temperatures and drizzle, we decided to head south of Murfreesboro and explore Historic Washington State Park from the warm of our vehicle.

The state of Arkansas took the town of Old Washington, Arkansas, located in Hempstead County, and turned it into a 101-acre museum village.  The Village contains a collection of pioneer artifacts from the town, which is a former pioneer settlement along the Southwest Trail. Important historical figures like James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett traveled through the area. Being from Texas we were highly interested in the history of this area. 

1874 Hempstead Courthouse

We began our tour of Old Washington at the 1874 Hempstead Courthouse. This was the only building we were able to tour due to weather and having our little dog with us. Built in 1874, this grand old county courthouse was used from 1874 to 1939. It now serves as the Historic Washington State Park’s visitor center and gift shop.

1836 Hempstead Courthouse (side view)

Also, in Old Washington is the 1836 courthouse built for Hempstead County. During the Civil War, Arkansas Governor Harris Flanagan chose this county courthouse as the Confederate Capitol of Arkansas following the capture of Little Rock in September 1863. 

Goodlett Cotton Gin

Moved from the nearby community of Ozan, the Goodlett Cotton Gin, built in 1883, serves as a reminder of the importance that cotton played in the South and Arkansas in the late 19th century.

Blacksmith Shop

The original Washington blacksmith shop was home to the famous blacksmith, James Black, who forged one of the original Bowie knives for James "Jim" Bowie in the early 1830s.  This building was reconstructed in 1960 and allows visitors to watch demonstrations of blacksmithing techniques. 

Morrison Tavern & Inn

This reconstruction of an 1830s inn was built by the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation in 1960 using a donation from William and Lucille Hart King. Its look was based off an original 19th-century building that once stood at this same location. 

Presbyterian Church

This Carpenter Gothic-style church was built in 1889 to replace an earlier church destroyed by fire. In a 1907 tornado, the structure was lifted off its foundation and thrown in the street. Local men in Washington pulled it back onto its foundation using mule teams. The building is owned by the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation and rented out for public events.

Pioneer Cemetery 1820-1860

Several soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery

We were so excited to visit Historic Washington State Park that we vowed to return on a warmer, drier day to take in the tours of the buildings and enjoy the "New England" charm of this quaint little village.

To see more on our adventures of Historic Washington State Park please check our our latest video on YouTube:

Here is the recipe for the travel-inspired cocktail we create in this video:

Bowie Knife Cocktail

1 oz gin

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Sparkling Brut Rose, to top

Lemon twist, for garnish

Add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup together in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain and pour into a Tom Collins glass. Top with sparkling Brut Rose and garnish with the lemon twist.


The Bowie Knife


Friday, October 28, 2022

DESINATION: Murfreesboro, Arkansas

To celebrate TK's birthday we traveled to Murfreesboro, Arkansas, and stayed at Crater of Diamonds State Park, for a lovely four day weekend!

Murfreesboro is located in the southwest section of Arkansas and is the county seat for Pike County.  This small town has great small-town charm with a very cute downtown area for shopping.

Old hotel located in Murfreesboro

Once was a gas station but now it is a community park

Water tower watching over Murfreesboro

Great antique and gift shopping in downtown Murfreesboro

The Crater of Diamonds State Park is located just three miles south of Murfreesboro and consist of 37 acres of pure diamond digging delight!  This crater is actually the only place in the world where the public can hunt for diamonds and keep whatever they find.  We visited the park many years ago and had no luck finding a diamond.  This time we returned to rectify that situation!

Welcome center sign

Crater of Diamonds visitors center

Old equipment used in digging

The diamond digging field

We prepared for our visit by learning about diamonds and how to search for them at the park's visitors center. The three colors of diamonds found in Crater of Diamonds are white, brown, and yellow. Amethyst, garnet, jasper, agate, and quartz are among the minerals and rocks you can find at the park, as well. More than 35,000 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. Notable diamonds found at the Crater include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S.; the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight; the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas; and the 8.52-carat Esperanza. Sadly, our hopes for finding a diamond, or even a nice mineral sample, were denied

Entrance to Crater of Diamonds State Park

Our trailer at our campsite

The Crater of Diamonds State Park has other amenities which include a gift shop, seasonal water park, walking trails, picnic sites, 5 walk-in tent sites, and 47 Class AAA campsites (50 Amp/30 Amp/Water/Sewer).  

Our campsite was amazing! Not only was it clean and level but tall trees surrounded the site providing privacy from neighbors and cover from the drizzle and rain.

There are several hiking trails in the area with some leading down to the Little Missouri River and back up to the Crater of Diamonds Visitor Center.

Not far from Murfreesboro and near the small town of Billstown, Arkansas, is the final resting place of Glen Campbell. We stopped by to pay homage to this master musician.  As we were reading the historical markers within the family cemetery a truck pulled up and out popped Glen Campbell's cousin.  He introduced himself and thanked us for visiting making our visit to Campbell's grave even more special.

We also enjoyed visiting the town of Washington, Arkansas.  We were so impressed with this town turned living-history-museum that we decided to spend an entire day exploring this area and have saved Washington for a separate post, all by itself.

View our latest video about Crater of Diamonds State Park on our YouTube Channel!

Here is the recipe to the travel-inspired cocktail we create in this video:

    Arkansas Razorback Cocktail

½ shot of Vodka

½ shot of rum

½ shot of almond liqueur

½ shot of coffee liqueur

Add all together in a shaker with ice. Shake to froth and strain off the ice into the glass. The ice is just to get it cold and the shaking is to make it froth. Don't worry if it doesn't stay frothy.  


The Arkansas Razorback