Visitors to Centerton in northwest Arkansas who have a love of nature and the great outdoors will find plenty to occupy themselves in the city and outlying areas. However if you are also a history buff who is interested in combining the two then this is definitely the region for you as it is as rich in heritage as it is in geographic and geological features. Arkansas is referred to as the Natural State and its beautiful landscape is as much a part of the region’s heritage as the people, places and events that have shaped its history. As a result, tourists to the area today can continue to follow in the foot-steps of those who lived and travelled across the state in days gone by thanks to the renowned Arkansas Heritage Trails.
These historical trails cover both land and water, with some offering pedestrian or vehicular access only while others can be negotiated by mountain bike, motor cycle by car or on horseback with areas that can be tackled on foot too. Running from the highlands of the Ozark Mountain region in the northwest of the state near Centerton to the lowlands of the Arkansas Delta in the far south of the state, these cover some of mid-America’s highest peaks to the Mississippi River and the cotton culture –plantations of the Deep South to the Wild West frontiers. Among the most famous – although the term infamous may perhaps be more suitable in this case – is the historic Trail of Tears where many Native Americans lost their lives as they were forced from their homelands that they had inhabited for centuries and moved to the delegated ‘Indian Territory’ in Oklahoma that was allocated as a result of the Indian Removal laws passed in the mid 19th Century. The Butterfield Overland Trail is another frontier trail from the old west and was the original mail route in the region prior to the establishment of the later Pony Express routes. This was a stage coach service that operated from 1857 to 1861 that carried both passengers and U.S mail across the country from two eastern states. These originated in St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee with both meeting in Arkansas’ Fort Smith before heading through what was deemed to be Indian Territory then Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California until it reached its final destination in San Francisco. Pilgrims following the route today will still find a few of the original stage stops along the way as well as learning more about the history of the old west and its overland trails, stage routes, railroads and historical figures as well as how the impact of mining & geology affected the area and its inhabitants, in particular the native American tribes.
There are also several Civil War Trails in the area near Centerton and there are a variety of events happening at present along these routes to commemorate Sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War. This includes a special patch delegated exclusively for motorcyclists and covers eight of the state’s main Civil War battlefields including those at Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, Little Rock, Pine Bluff and the Battle of Fayetteville.