Welcome to Jacksonport State Park!
Once a thriving river port at the joining of the White and Black Rivers, Jacksonport is located just outside of Newport in Northeast Arkansas. In the 1830's, Thomas Todd Tunstall was the first steamboat pilot to venture up the White River, where he purchased land and established the town of Jacksonport. The town became a strategic port during the Civil War, occupied by both Confederate and Union troops, and it was where General M. Jeff Thompson formally surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Arkansas to Union forces in 1865.
In the 1870s the town was bypassed by the railroad, and rapidly declined as river freight shipments slowed. After the county seat moved to Newport, the historic 1872 courthouse was used for a variety of other purposes including a school, a cotton gin, and during the early 1900's, it was the Jackson County Hospital. Unfortunately, over time the building was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
In 1961, Lady Elizabeth Luker, a preservationist and charter president of the newly formed Jackson County Historical Society, headed a successful effort to purchase the building and begin renovation.
The courthouse and land once owned by the Society was turned over to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Jacksonport State Park was officially dedicated on June 5, 1965. The courthouse was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1997, a half mile wide F-4 tornado struck Jacksonport causing extensive damage. The courthouse had to undergo renovations and was modeled after how it was originally designed with new museum exhibits and gallery rooms.
Visitors may remember the park previously having a 1930's era sternwheeler riverboat on site, howeverthe Mary Woods No. 2 steamboat sank in early 2010 and, after attempts at restoration, was deemed unsalvageable.
The newest addition to the park is the visitor's center. The building was conceived as a modern “dog-trot” style dwelling by the Polk Stanley Wilcox Architechural Firm and was completed in 2018. The firm designed two perfect glass cubes they say represents the North and South under one roof connected by a bridge... a symbol of reunification. A covered outdoor classroom allows visitors to climb above levee height to view the river and relax by the fireplace. Inside, you'll find a very impressive state of the art museum detailing the areas history as well as a gift shop and event space available to rent.
The recreation side of the park offers guests 20 spacious hookup campsites set along the banks of the White River, as well as a barrier free bathhouse. There's a beautiful shaded picnic area and a large pavilion available to rent for groups. The expansive swim beach is also where you'll find the playground and a second raised restroom facility. Behind the visitor's center, there is boat ramp access and the half mile Tunstall Riverwalk Conservation Area, allowing guests a leisurely stroll between the visitor's center and campground.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Jacksonport State Park and we encourage you to get out and experience The Natural State! For more information on the park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com
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