Discover the role of Arkansas’s White River, with emphasis on the Lower White, as a vital transportation route for early settlers on the Arkansas frontier. Museum exhibits interpret the river’s influence on settlements during the steamboat era and the expansion of commerce from its roots in hunting and fishing into shelling, timber, and agriculture.
Life-sized figures of a steamboat captain, slave, schoolteacher, and land surveyor greet visitors, introducing themselves with dialog taken from oral histories and slave narratives. A 100 ft.² pen and ink mural, by Little Rock artist Richard DeSpain, serves as the backdrop for these figures. The mural, based on a historical photograph, features the steamboat J. A. Woodson waiting to be loaded with cotton.
Museum exhibits explore such topics as pearling and button-making, fishing and hunting, the timber industry, agriculture, medicine, education, the Civil War, and riverboats.
Young museum visitors can enjoy an interactive map of Arkansas highlighting its major rivers and locations of towns along the lower White River.
A research room features archival materials, including cemetery records, tax exemption receipts for cotton, old newspapers, estate papers, and other historical documents.
The park also hosts a variety of interpretive programs, workshops, and special events throughout the year.
A replica of an 1880s-style log cabin, owned by Prairie County, is located next to the park. This cabin, built in traditional dogtrot style, features a kitchen and living quarters separated by an open-air breezeway. Outbuildings, including a potato or smoke house, a washhouse, and an outhouse complete the complex.
Admission is free.
The Lower White River Museum is in Des Arc at the western end of Main Street at 2009 Main Street, two miles west of the White River.
For more information about Arkansas State Parks historic, heritage and cultural parks, and museums, go to: http://www.historystateparks.com/