(BRINKLEY, Ark.) – Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park, located near Brinkley, is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, April 7th after renovations to preserve this National Historic Landmark. While smaller than most Arkansas state parks, the site is of major significance. The park protects the initial point of the Louisiana Purchase Survey of 1815, which is a vital, fixed coordinate for land surveying across the western United States.
The initial point was later rediscovered by land surveyors in 1921 and then in 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a granite monument commemorating its significance. The nearly 40-acre plot that surrounds the granite monument was acquired by Arkansas State Parks in 1961.
Water tupelos and cypress trees tower above the wetlands, transporting visitors back in time through land untouched by the surrounding agricultural industry. This headwater swamp environment is one of the few remaining; it was added to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s System of Natural Areas in 1977. In 1993, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark.
For nearly 100 years, the granite monument rested in the bed of the wetlands, and over time, the monument began to sink. Today, you can walk a winding 800-foot, elevated boardwalk through the wetlands area to reach the location of the granite monument.
“These improvements are complete just in time for increased visitation as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease,” said Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst. “Arkansas residents and out-of-state visitors alike will want to put this on their “must-see” list because of its historic and natural significance.”
Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann said, “The renovations will not only help preserve this important place in Arkansas history, but it also will enhance our visitors’ experience as they walk the boardwalk, explore the interpretive panels, and learn the story of how the Louisiana Purchase opened up the American West.”
“In the past, the monument was often submerged in the wetlands. To protect this historic landmark, we have raised the monument from the waters and set a new base,” Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park Superintendent Molly Elders said. “We’ve also cleaned and repaired the boardwalk, installed a vault restroom facility, and made walkway and parking lot improvements.”
“The park is one of the most historic places in Arkansas. It is the roots of America’s settlement west of the Mississippi River. I’m delighted that it is once again open to the public with great improvements to its access,” State Parks Recreation and Travel Commissioner John Gill said.
The contractor on the project was Cliff Childress Construction of Lonoke, Ark. The total cost of the project was $362,570 provided by Amendment 75 conservation funds, a donation from the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, and a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (FY21).
About Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and War Memorial Stadium.
The state parks have 1,800 campsites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, five lodges, and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities, and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more about everything we have to offer.