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


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