AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #50a -- St. Louis, Missouri to San Antonio, Texas
Part 4 - Little Rock to Texarkana
Poplar Bluff to Little Rock
Texarkana to Mineola


344.5 Cross Arkansas River, which is known as David T. Terry Lake here, then pull into the LITTLE ROCK station, 1400 W. Markham Street.  Elevation approximately 274 ft.  Little Rock is the capital of the State of Arkansas, and also the State’s largest city.  It is also the county seat of Pulaski County.

          The city was originally inhabited by the Quapaw Indians, and the oldest part of present-day Little Rock is known as the Quapaw Quarter.  The settlement was named in 1722 by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bernard de la Harpe, for a “little rock” on the bank of the Arkansas River, which was a landmark for early explorers.  The rock was called Le Petit Rocher, and is located on the edge of the Ouachita Escarpment. Little Rock is located at this escarpment , which marks the boundary between the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Ouachita Mountains section of the Ozark Plateau.  Just upstream from the “little rock” is another outcropping known as Le Rocher Français, the “big rock” (literally, the “French rock.”)  The first settlers in the area did not arrive until 1806. however, almost 100 years after the place was named.  The early settlers came here from the Carolinas.  The site became the home of the Arkansas Territorial Government in 1820, and the city of Little Rock was incorporated in 1831.

          Little Rock is now a major cultural, economic, government and transportation center within Arkansas, the South and the nation.  It is the home of the University of Arkansas Little Rock campus, the Arkansas Baptist College, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  It is also the home of Riverfront Park, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Little Rock Zoo, and the Villa Marre, an 1881 Victorian home which was one of the most luxurious homes in the city at the dawn of the 20th Century.  The city is the headquarters of Dillard's, Windstream Communications, Axiom, Stephens Inc., Heifer International, the Clinton Foundation, the Rose Law Firm, and the American Taekwando Association.  Little Rock was also the home of Governor Bill Clinton before he became President of the United States, and the Clinton Presidential Library is located here.  Notable U.S. General Douglas Mac Arthur was born in Little Rock.  In addition, Cosmopolitan Editor and Publisher Helen Gurly Brown was from Little Rock.

         To the west of downtown Little Rock, not quite visible from the train, the Ouachita Mountains subprovince of the Ozark Plateau begins. The mountains are composed of Ordovician- to Pennsylvanian-aged (320-500 million years old) sedimentary rocks, primarily sandstone and shale.  These sedimentary rocks are extensively folded and faulted.  Between here and Texarkana, the railroad line will pass near the Ouachita Mountains, but not through them.  The mountains may be visible to the west (right if southbound) at several locations.

          We have now left the Mississippi Alluvial Plain section, and will now be traversing the West Gulf Coastal Plain section between here and Dallas.  The topography visible from the train will appear very much like the topography we have been traversing, the primary difference between the two sections being there are more faults and escarpments in the West Gulf Coastal Plain than there are in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, since the section is older.

345.5 Pass beneath Interstate 630.  We are crossing the trace of one of many thrust faults in the Ouachita Mountains; however, you will not see the fault plane here due to urbanization.

346    On the left is Little Rock Central High School, which was the focal point of the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.  Nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were denied entrance to the school in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. which ordered integration of public schools.  This provoked a showdown between Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and President Dwight D. Eisenhower that gained international attention.

347    The hills on the right (southbound) are composed of Paleocene-aged Midway Group, consisting of clay and sandstone.  Ahead of the train and to the left are alluvial sediments.

347.5 Cross Fourche Creek, which is part of the Little Rock wastewater system.  Fourche Bottoms, the urban wetland we are crossing, is an important habitat for wildlife in this area.

349    Cross another branch of Fourche Creek.

349-350 Pass through Geyer Springs.  The bluff on the right (southbound) contains the Arkansas novaculite formation, a layer of dense, silica-rich quartz similar to flint or chalcedony. Novaculite is used as a sharpening stone for tools, and is formed by low-grade metamorphism of chert.

351.5 Pass beneath Interstate 30.

352   Pass through Cloverdale, a suburb of Little Rock.

354    Pass through the unincorporated town of Mabelvale, which was annexed to Little Rock in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s as Little Rock’s 7th Ward..  The area adjacent to the railroad is underlain by Paleocene-aged Midway Group and Eocene-aged Wilcox Group.

357.5-358 Pass through Alexander, which began as a railroad construction camp.  It is the home of the Alexander Juvenile Correction Facility

         On the left (southbound), in the distance, is Alexander Mountain, which is composed of Early Eocene-aged Wilcox Group.

358   Enter SALINE County, which was created on November 2, 1835, from parts of Hempstead and Pulaski Counties.  The county was named after either a salt works which had been operating since the 1820’s, or the Saline River, which flows through the county.  The county seat and largest city is Benton.

361    On the left (southbound) is the Saline County Regional Airport, which is located on an old mine tailings pit, from which the aluminum ore bauxite was likely mined (see MP 364.5 below).

361-362 Pass through Bryant, which has the 4th highest median household income in Arkansas, after Maumelle, White Hall, and Cabot.  Bryant also was the only town in Arkansas to be chosen for Money Magazine's Top 100 Best Places to Live 2009, ranking number 86.  Bryant is underlain by the Eocene-aged Wilcox Group of sedimentary rocks.

364.5 On the left (southbound) is a large ALCOA aluminum plant, which reached its peak of production during World War I.  Aluminum is refined from an aluminum hydroxide mineral known as bauxite, whose chemical symbol varies from Al(OH)3 to AlO(OH).  The Early Eocene-aged Wilcox Group contains some bauxite here.

         The Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) is headquartered in Pittsburgh, and the plant visible from the train here in Arkansas was initially a drying plant.  In 1907, ALCOA upgraded this plant to a large crushing and grinding plant, and built the company town of Bauxite, named after the ore mineral, which is located approximately 2 miles south of here, on the other side of the plant. After World War II, because of unionization of the United States work force, changes in the social climate of the nation, and the startup of much less expensive aluminum production from Third World nations, most of the mine workers relocated to Benton, so the company town of Bauxite disappeared, but the aluminum industry in Arkansas continues to grow.

366-368 Pass through Benton, the Saline County seat. The city was named after Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton and first settled in 1833.  Two years before that, local merchant Joshua Smith built the first store in town, and in 1839, the town was incorporated.  After Arkansas seceded from the Union prior to the Civil War, several local men joined the Confederate Army; however, only about 20% of them survived the war.  Then, in 1866, a local clay which was good for pottery making was discovered near here, and a ceramics company began operation. The railroad soon came through, and in 1887, a road contractor discovered a bed of bauxite near here;’ however, at that time, there was no economic method available for the separation of aluminum from bauxite.  In 1888, Charles Martin Hall finally patented a process for the recovery of aluminum from bauxite.

          The late award-winning country music performer Charlie Rich, aka “the silver fox,” was from Benton.

369.5 Cross Saline River, a tributary of the Ouachita River.

371   On the right (southbound) is a Rineco Waste management Services operated wastewater plant for the city of Benton.

372.5 Pass through Haskell.  The hills on the right are composed of Paleocene- and Eocene-aged Midway and Wilcox groups.

376-376.5 Pass through Traskwood, which is located on a ridge composed of Eocene-aged Wilcox group.

379    Enter HOT SPRING County, named after the natural hot springs in the area.  The county was created on November 2, 1829, from a portion of Clark County. The county seat is Malvern.

382    The hills on either side of the railroad are composed of Wilcox Group sandstone and siltstone.

382.5 On the left (southbound) is the Flakeboard America plant, a manufacturer of home paneling.

383.5 Pass through Gifford.

387.5 MALVERN station, 200 E. First Street.  Elevation approximately 276 ft.  This station is the AMTRAK stop for Hot Springs National Park, approximately 20 miles from here.  It is the county seat of Hot Spring County.

          Malvern was named after Malvern Hill in Virginia, and was founded in 1870 by the Cairo & Fulton Railroad (later the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern, then eventually Missouri Pacific and Union Pacific, who own the railroad now).  Malvern was not the first Hot Spring County Seat, however.  The original county seat was in a private home until 1846, when it was moved to Rockport. In 1879, Malvern became the county seat.

          On January 15, 1874, a stagecoach on the road from Malvern to Hot Springs was robbed by the James Brothers and the Younger Brothers.  A year later, Chicago grain mogul Joseph Reynolds, nicknamed “Diamond Jo” after his company logo (the word “Jo” surrounded by a diamond), which he always wore on his shirt, built the 22-mile Hot Springs Railroad (also known as the Diamond Jo Railroad) between Malvern and Hot Springs. In 1900, however, a new railroad was built from Little Rock to Hot Springs, known as the Little Rock & Hot Springs Western Railroad, which basically shut down Diamond Jo’s railroad from Malvern.

          Malvern is known as the “Brick Capital; of the World,” since it is the home of 3 Acme Brick plants.  Malvern’s annual Brickfest celebration takes place during the last weekend in June, which includes music and food as well as games such as brick tosses, a brick car derby, and a “best dressed brick” contest.  In the fall, the Hot Springs Rodeo and Fair take place here.  Malvern is also home of the College of the Ouachitas.

392.5-393 A large fish hatchery is visible here on the right (southbound).

393.5 Large power plant may be visible on left (southbound) through trees.  Hills on the left are composed of Eocene-aged Wilcox Group.

398-399 Pass through Donaldson.

405    Enter CLARK County, named after General William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, who was later Governor of the Missouri Territory from 1813 to 1821.  The county was the third county created in the State.  The county seat is Arkadelphia.

405.5 Cross White Oak Creek

409    Cross Ouachita River, the 605-mile long river which begins north of here in the Ouachita Mountains, and flows south and southeasterly into the Mississippi River in Louisiana.

410   ARKADELPHIA station, 798 S. 5th Street.  Elevation approximately 190.  Arkadelphia is the county seat of Clark County. The area was first settled in 1809 by John Hemphill, who owned a salt works here.  The town was originally known as Blakeleytown, named after Adam Blakely, an early settler.  The town had grown quite a bit by 1839, so was incorporated, and the name was changed to Arkadelphia. The name is from the first part of the word “Arkansas,” and the “delphia” part was taken from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the Greek word “delphos” meaning “brothers.”  The early residents of Arkadelphia all felt like brothers since they got along so well and even invited the local indians to sit with them at their fires.  Arkadelphia was known as “Arkansas’ Philadelphia.”

         Arkadelphia was a prosperous steamboat landing along the Ouachita River, until the Cairo & Fulton Railroad was built through here in the 1870’s.  The economy today consists of aluminum manufacturing and processing, tourism, and education.  Arkadelphia sis the home of Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University.

         The De Gray Dam Visitor Center is located near Arkadelphia, at the De Gray Lake Resort and State Park, north of here.  The city is also the home of the Clark County Historical Museum, Captain Henderson House, James E.M. Barkman House, and Arkadelphia Confederate Monument.

413    The bluffs on the right (southbound) are composed of Late Cretaceous-aged Nacatoch Chalk, which was deposited in a nearshore marine environment.

414    Pass through Gum Springs.  On the right (southbound), along the highway, is West Gum Springs.  On the left in the distance is a large Alco Aluminum Plant.

416    On the left (southbound) is the Danfoss Scroll Technologies Plant, located on a hill composed of Late Cretaceous-aged Arkadelphia Marl. We are passing through the unincorporated community of Richwoods.

419    Pass through Curtis, another unincorporated community.

421   Cross Terre Noire Creek

424.5-426 Pass through Gurdon, named after Henry Gurdon Marquand, a railroad executive.  It was founded in the late 19th Century as a lumber town, and is the birthplace of the Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, a fraternal and service group of foresters.

          Gurdon is also home to the “Gurdon lights,” a series of unexplained phenomena which occur in a wooded area by railroad tracks, which appears to viewers as a light or lights hovering in mid-air.  Local folk legend explains the light appearances as a deceased trainman's lantern.  Scientific work on the origin of the lights has proven inconclusive.  The light has been featured on local media and on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries.

429   Pass through Beirne.  Note Anthony Timberlands hardwood plant on right (southbound).  Beirne was settled in 1880 by James Lewis Beirne of Illinois.  In 1890, the community also became known as Beirne Station.

433   Cross Beaver Slough.

434.5 Cross Little Missouri River and enter NEVADA County.  Nevada County was so named due to its resemblance to the shape of the State of Nevada.  The county was created March 20, 1871, from parts of Hempstead, Ouachita, and Columbia Counties.  The county seat in 1871 was originally Mount Moriah.  In 1877, the county seat was changed to Prescott.

436.5 Pass through Boughton.

437   Cross Moore Creek, which flows into Garland Creek just southeast of the railroad (left if southbound).

440   On the left (southbound), the hills are composed of Arkadelphia Marl and Paleocene-aged Midway Group.

440.5-441.5 Pass through Prescott, the county seat of Nevada County.  The city of Prescott was platted in 1873, during construction of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. It was named after William H. Prescott, an author and historian from Massachusetts.  Prescott was incorporated on October 6, 1874. This is the site of the 1864 Civil War Battle of Praririe d’Ane, in which the Union Army’s Camden Expedition attempted to drive they Confederates out of Arkansas, as part of the Red River campaign.  The Union forces were defeated at the Battle of Prairie d’Ane; however, they soon turned back to the Confederates later, and won the next Battle of Jenkins ferry, which also took place near here, in April 1864.

448-448.5 Pass through Emmet and enter HEMPSTEAD County.  Emmet was incorporated in 1872 and named after Emmet Elgin, a surveyor for the Cairo & Fulton Railroad, who later became the first postmaster of the community.  Arkla Village was a former community near here, which was a re-creation of a 19th Century frontier town  From the late 1950’s until the late 1960’s, Arkla Village held a roundup at the end of each summer, which included the appearance of a marksman.

         Hempstead was one of the original Arkansas counties within the Missouri Territory, and was founded December 15, 1818, from a part of Arkansas County.  It was named after Edward Hempstead, a delegate to the U.S. Congress from the Missouri Territory. The county seat is Hope.

453    The hills on the left (southbound) are composed of Paleocene-aged Midway Group overlain by Eocene-aged Wilcox Group, consisting of sandstone and siltstone.

456.5 HOPE station, 100 E. Division Street.  Elevation approximately 363. AMTRAK service began at this location on April 4, 2013; however, the Texas Eagle has been traveling through here for many years. Hope is the county seat of Hempstead County; however, the original county seat was Washington.

         Hope was founded in 1873, incorporated in 1875, and named after Hope Loughborough, the infant daughter of James M. Loughborough of Kentucky, who was a legal counsel and land commissioner for the new Cairo & Fulton Railroad.  In its earlier days, Hope was known as the “Watermelon Capital of Arkansas,” and still holds an annual Watermelon Festival.  Toward the end of the 20th Century, however, Hope became better known as the birthplace and boyhood home of Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton also served as Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, then again from 1983 to 1992.  Hope is also the home of former Governor Mike Huckabee, who served as Governor from 1996 to 2007, and, in 2015, is a Presidential hopeful.

462    Pass through Guernsey. The highway on the right is Interstate 30.

463.5 Cross Bois d’Arc Creek.  The name Bois d’Arc means “bow wood,” and trees containing this bow wood have been in use in the area since before the 1830’s.

464.5 Pass through Sheppard.

467   Pass through Sprudel.

469   Pass beneath Interstate 30.

470    Pass through Fulton and cross the Red River.  Fulton was named after Robert J. Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat.  The townsite was laid out in 1819 by Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” and James Bryan.  In 1874, the Cairo & Fulton Railroad got to Fulton.  The area was first settled in 1806.  Fulton is located on the Southwest Trail, a 19th century pioneer route that was the primary route for American settlers bound for Texas. The Southwest Trail was originally an American Indian trace, and it was improved and expanded by European-American pioneers. The trail ran from St. Louis, Missouri, to Fulton, which was a keelboat landing located on the Red River.  At the time of Americans' first settling the Texas area, the Red River was the border between Mexico and the United States.

         We are also entering MILLER County here.  Miller County is the last county we will be traveling through in Arkansas.  Miller County was originally a part of Texas, which was still claimed by Mexico, as the Red River was the boundary between the United States and Texas.  The county was named after James Miller, the first governor of the Arkansas Territory.  It was Arkansas’ 6th county, established on April; 1, 1820.  In 1836, Arkansas Territory became a state, and Texas declared itself an independent republic, and disputed the area of current Miller County. In December, 1874, Miller County was re-established as a county in Arkansas, and the current county seat of Texarkana was established.

472   Pass beneath U.S. 67.  We are now crossing the flood plain of the Red River.

475.5 Pass beneath Interstate 30.

476.5 Pass through the unincorporated community of Homan.  We are now traversing the West Gulf Coastal Plain, and have left the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains.  We will be traversing this relatively flat subprovince, which is composed primarily of alluvial deposits from the Mississippi, Red, and other rivers, until approximately Dallas, Texas.

481    Pass through the unincorporated community of Paup.

482-483 Pass through the unincorporated community of Mandeville, home of Old US 67, Mandeville, which is a historic roadway section in Miller County.  The road was built in 1929 out of concrete, and is the longest stretch of original pavement on the Old US 67 alignment in Miller County.  The roadway is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

485   On the left (southbound) is the Texarkana Regional Airport.

486   Pass beneath Interstate 49.

489   TEXARKANA station, 100 E. Front Street.  Elevation approximately 305.  This station is actually on the Arkansas-Texas state line; however, the station address is listed by AMTRAK as Texarkana, Arkansas. Texarkana is located in both Miller Country, Arkansas, and Bowie County, Texas; however, Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas, each have their own separate identities and their own governments.  The name of the city was obviously derived from Texas, Arkansas, and also Louisiana; however, the city is only on the Texas-Arkansas border; the Louisiana border is several miles south.

         Texarkana was originally inhabited by the Caddo Indians and other tribes, who were friendly to the European settlers.  The city is located at the end of the Southwest Trail, which led from St. Louis to Texas.  Texarkana was also the junction point of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad and the Texas & Pacific Railroad, after the end of the Civil War.  A permanent settlement was established here in the 1840’s; however, the first lots were sold in 1874 by James Loughborough of the C & F Railroad.  The C & F soon became the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern Railroad, and eventually the Missouri Pacific, now part of Union Pacific.

         Texarkana is the home of the Ace of Clubs House and Museum, built in 1885 from the winnings from a poker game.  It is also the home of the Texarkana Historical Museum.  Texarkana was also the home of ragtime musician Scott Joplin, and Indy 500 driver Parnelli Jones.  The city was also used as setting for the 1976 movieThe Town That Dreaded Sundown.

         Enter BOWIE County, TEXAS.  The county was estabpsos9hed in December 1840, and named after Jim Bowie, the Texas revolutionary who dies at the Battle of the Alamo.  The Bowie County Seat is Boston; however, the courthouse is located in New Boston.

               We are also passing through Texarkana, Texas, the twin city of Texarkana, Arkansas.  Like its sister city in Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas, was built at the junction of the old Cairo & Fulton and Texas & Pacific Railroad lines, as they joined here.