Welcome to Historic Washington State Park!
Historic Washington State Park is located in southwest Arkansas, about 30 minutes west of Hope off Interstate 30.
Known as the Colonial Williamsburg of Arkansas, this museum village was established in 1824 as a convenient stop for travelers of the Southwest Trail which lead from Saint Louis to Mexico. During the Civil War, Washington was the states Confederate capital after Little Rock was taken by the Union Army in 1863. The preservation movement began in 1929 when members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were able to secure money to fund the restoration of the 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse. The hundred and one acre former pioneer settlement officially opened as a state park in 1973.
Since that time, more than 200,000 artifacts related to 19th century life have been recovered in the park!
There are no trails, but you can take a walking tour of the village down the wide-planked board walk starting at the 1874 Courthouse, which also serves as the Visitor's Center.
Make sure you check out the beautifully preserved courtroom upstairs It's filled with a treasure trove of history! And don't forget to stop in the gift shop for Arkansas made gifts and toys. Pick up a ticket for the walking tour so you can get in to see all the demonstrations...there are over 40 buildings, houses and places of interest, so make sure you wear your walking shoes! And if you don't feel like walking, there are horse-drawn surrey rides available!
Our first stop is the candle shop. There you are shown how candles were made in pioneer times and you can add the last layer of wax to your own hand-dipped candle in the color of your choice.
The next stop is the Print Shop where you will hear the history of the printing press. Did you know upper case and lower case letters are called upper and lower because of where they were found in the type case for letterpress printing?
Historic Washington is also the home of the Boo-wie knife, created by James Black in the early 19thcentury for Jim Boo-wie. Make sure you stop by the B. W. Edwards weapons museum to get a look at their collection of Boo-wie knives and over 600 other weapons.
There is no camping on-site, but they are converting the former jail into an Airbnb and we can't wait to come back and stay there in the future!
Groups can also rent out the 1914 school house with bunkbeds for up to 60 people.
There's so much to see, but the one thing you can't miss is the magnolia tree....literally, you can't miss it! It's HUGE!!!! It was planted in Historic Washington in 1839 and is the largest known magnolia tree in Arkansas
If you start getting hungry from all that walking, the 1832 Williams' Tavern Restaurant is the place to go! Paul said it's one of the best Reuban's he's ever had! And make sure you top it off with a root beer float.
The park also hosts a Jonquil Festival, Civil War reenactments and a Christmas and Candlelight Celebration where the park is decked out in traditional nineteenth-century decorations and lit by luminaries.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Historic Washington State Park and we encourage you to get out and experience The Natural State! For more information on the park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com and make sure you follow Arkie Travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more Arkansas adventures!