Historic Washington State Park, Arkansas
The town of Washington was founded in 1824 on the Southwest Trail just 15 miles
from the Red River, which then separated American lands from the Mexican
territory known as Texas. Because of its border proximity, Washington played a
role in Texas’ 1835-36 war for independence. Evidence suggests that Sam Houston
and others discussed plans for the revolt while Houston resided in one of the
town’s taverns in 1834. Washington also served as Arkansas’s Confederate capital
after Union forces captured Little Rock in 1863 during the Civil War. The park
(which is conserved and interpreted by Arkansas State Parks and the Pioneer Washington
Restoration Foundation) preserves and showcases the town’s architecture,
history and pioneer culture. Visitors can get a sense of 19th-century life in
Arkansas by visiting such attractions as the 1836 courthouse that served as the
Confederate capitol; the Edwards Weapons Museum, which includes numerous
pioneer-era rifles and pistols; a print museum featuring 19th-century printing
equipment; a re-creation of a period blacksmith shop; and the Pioneer Cemetery.
Historic and antebellum houses dating from the mid-1830s to the 1850s can also be
found throughout the park.
The 1874 Hempstead County Courthouse serves as the park visitor center. Accessible parking is located behind the courthouse. Lunch featuring Southern country fare is served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the quaint, circa 1832 Williams' Tavern Restaurant.
Historic Washington State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park is closed on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
To reach the park, take Exit #30 off I-30 at Hope and travel eight miles northwest on U.S. 278 to Washington.