Old Davidsonville State Park

Old Davidsonville State Park
Old Davidsonville State Historic Monument
Old Davidsonville State Park is located in Arkansas
Location: Randolph County, Arkansas, USA
Nearest city: Black Rock, Arkansas
Coordinates: 36°9′23″N 91°3′23″W / 36.15639°N 91.05639°W / 36.15639; -91.05639Coordinates: 36°9′23″N 91°3′23″W / 36.15639°N 91.05639°W / 36.15639; -91.05639
Governing body: State
NRHP Reference#: 74000499[1]
Added to NRHP: January 18, 1974

Old Davidsonville State Park preserves the site of the frontier town of Davidsonville. The town was founded in 1815 and rapidly became the most important town in northeast Arkansas Territory, but was abandoned by the 1830s. It was situated in the transition zone between the Mississippi Alluvial Plain of Arkansas (the Arkansas Delta) and the Ozark Plateau.

Davidsonville was a river port town, built on the west bank of the Black River, near the convergence of the Spring River and Eleven Point River with the Black River. The town was on important stop on the Southwest Trail, but soon after the town's founding the trail was rerouted onto higher ground, bypassing Davidsonville. New towns appeared on the trail's new route, taking over Davidsonville's role. By the time of Arkansas statehood in 1836, Davidsonville was essentially abandoned.

During Davidsonville's brief boom, it featured several important frontier establishments. In 1817 the first post office of Arkansas Territory opened in the town, followed in 1820 by the first federal land office of the territory. In 1822, the first courthouse of Arkansas Territory was built in Davidsonville. The town became the county seat of Lawrence County, which at the time comprised roughly the northern third of Arkansas. Today, Old Davidsonville is in Randolph County, Arkansas.

In 1828 the land office was moved to Batesville, about 60 miles southwest. In 1829 the countyseat (and courthouse) began a series of moves to a number of other towns. Today there are very few remains above ground. The townsite, which had been a grid of streets with a central square where the courthouse stood, now looks like a grassy field with a few trees. Only upon closer inspection does one begin to see hints of the former town. The park's interpretive signs point out where certain buildings used to stand. There are a couple small cemeteries.

There is evidence that the townsite was occupied by French colonists prior to the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Archeologists have discovered evidence of Native American use of the site as early as 4,000 B.C. The 1822 courthouse was apparently built on top of an Indian mound which was built before 1,100 A.D.

Old Davidsonville State Park was created in 1957. The park offers interpretive programs, camping, hiking, fishing, and canoeing. Park facilities were originally built on the old townsite.

The site was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974 as "Old Davidsonville State Historic Monument", also known as Lawrence-Davidsonville.[1]

During the 1980s the townsite was cleared in order to facilitate archeological studies. The park facilities are now located on nearby ridges. The first careful archeological study was conducted in 1972, and several others followed.


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