Vol ii No.15
2 Cents

Culture and history of Eureka Springs, Arkansas

-- The History of Eureka Springs, Arkansas --


     In Eureka Springs, the Business Loop of Highway 62 through town was paved in concrete in the 1930s. It offered a smooth scenic ride alternative to the rough gravel highway. 62B made the downtown itself into an attraction, since people could drive their autos and still see the houses clinging to the hillsides. (The architecture was nothing special – they had plenty of old houses in their own towns.)  In addition to the lodgings on the highway itself, several lodgings were built just off the main highway on Hwy 62B. Still standing today are the Rock Cottages (now Rock Cottage Gardens), Twigg Cabins (now the Log Cabin Motel). The Homestead Court were located in this area also, but moved to various locations when the hospital was built.  Many of the large old homes, some originally built as boarding houses in the 1890s, attracted travelers with their reasonable rates, (even without convenient parking). 

      Filling stations and garages catered to the auto traveler and local needs along 62B.  Another major road, Arkansas Highway 23, the Jefferson Highway spur, encompassed Main Street in a north/south direction after combining with U.S. Highway 62 for a mile. This was also a popular area for auto-related services and sales. For decades, the areas north and south of the Courthouse housed car dealerships for Hudsons, Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Buicks and Fords, as well as repair garages.  


     Along the edge of Eureka Springs, the auto traveler was king from the 1920s on… One of our local lodgings embodies the full evolution of roadside accomodations. Beginning as Camp Leath, the earliest autocamp, it added amenities and became Mount Air Camp, then Mount Air Cottages, then Mount Air Court -- finally emerging as Best Western Inn of the Ozarks and Convention Center. Camp Joy underwent similar transformations through the decades, most of which are still represented at the Joy Motel – stone cottages, block cottages and a 1960s motel with a great “googie” style sign in the center. The Tradewinds Motel offered individual cottages in a line off the highway, as did Morgan’s Court (now Scandia Inn). The Lovely Motel and Hoot Owl Gift Shop are now Sherwood Court.  Around the bend on Hwy 62 was Harper’s Court (now Bavarian Inn, with one cottage remaining). Further out were the Oak Crest Cottages (same name now), Green Gables Court, Skyline Motel(now Cottage Inn) and Pine Lodge. 

     Restaurants offered ample, convenient parking. Henri’s (later Ozark Village), Ernies Hickory House (now Caribe), and specialized in home cooking. Dairy Queen appeared in the 1950s to serve “fast food” followed by a Tastee-Freez in the 1960s.

      Filling stations appeared early on and evolved:  Blunk’s became Rain’s Lion Station, and now Tad’s Quik-Stop.  Gift shops lined the highway in town and the downtown shops and restaurants tried to “look modern.”  On the western edge of town, Miles Mountain offered a full tourist experience -- museum, gift shop and restaurant -- to visitors who were about to embark on or recovering from their Highway 62 adventure in driving.


      On Highway 62 West outside of the city limits the roadside amenities differed slightly from those in town. There were off-road attractions such as Pivot Rock (freaks of nature, still open), Blue Springs (still open, still interesting) Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony (summer opera and music),Castle atInspiration Point(point rock castle and fabulous view), and later additions such as Dinosaur World and Beaver Dam. Gift shops lined the highway offering Ozark specialities: Southwind Gift Shop (now a ghost), Huffman’s Camp and Store now White River Trading Company) and Panorama Point and gift shop.  Huffman’s also offered a mini-museum of rocks and Indian artifacts as incentive for tourists to stop. 

     Lodgings in the mountain/river area strove to be more destinations than just overnight stops. Riverview Resort sported up-to-date cabins by the White River. The White River Camp was located where the 1940s highway bridge crossed the river. Like Huffman’s Camp it catered more to fishermen than families. The area offered fishing (with or without guides), boating, swimming, hiking, etc. Lake Leatherwood, built in the late 1930s by WPA workers, had housekeeping cabins, camping plus swimming, fishing and boating in the mile-long, man-made finger lake. The area had its own restaurants with a more rustic flair for those enjoying a recreational vacation: the Hawk’s Nest, Hunt’s Log Cabin & Tavern. These dotted the drive all the way to Gateway, which sported an arched sign across the road, Gateway to Eureka Springs.