A beautiful 15-minute drive through the hills from Pocahontas takes you to some of Arkansas’ earliest American history, merged with modern-day recreation. Davidsonville Historic State Park, known by the locals as “Old Davidsonville,” once home to Arkansas’s first post office and earliest courthouse, offers:
- While little of Davidsonville’s early existence, from 1815, remains above ground, archaeological excavations are still uncovering remarkable finds of streets, foundations, and objects that tell a fascinating story of life on the Arkansas frontier following the Louisiana Purchase.
- Full-size “ghost structures” present the outline of some of the buildings that used to exist in the frontier town.
- Fishing is a major activity, as the park borders the Black River and a fishing lake. Pedal boats are available for rent.
- The new visitor center features a replica 1820s hunter-trapper flatboat, audio tour, and a display of historic finds from archaeological digs.
- Trails, picnic areas, and a newly renovated campground with 20 campsites add to the amenities.
Bypassed by the Southwest Trail, an overland route from St. Louis to the border of Mexico, the town faded by the 1830s. Park exhibits and interpretive tours provide information about this important frontier town. GPS address 7953 Highway 166 South, Pocahontas, Arkansas.
The park includes some nice walking trails:
- Historic Townsite Trail: Easy 1/3 mile loop. From 1815 to 1830, Davidsonville was a vibrant town with store-lined streets and people going about their daily lives on the frontier. Although no remnants of Davidsonville are now visible above the ground, stories are emerging from beneath the surface. This trail takes you around Davidsonville’s once-bustling town square. Exhibits on the trail explain more about this historic town and its historical significance to Arkansas. The panels also give you a glimpse of the people who once called Davidsonville home and the archaeology that helped fill in the details about life at Davidsonville.
- Scott Cemeter Trail: Easy to moderate 1/2 mile walk. Named for the family buried here, this is a short hike to a post-Civil War cemetery. The Scott family owned and ran the Black River ferry even after Davidsonville was just a ghost of the town it had been. Today, tombstones mark the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Scott and several of their children.
- Trapper Lake Trail: Moderate 1-mile loop. The trail meanders through the forest of Davidsonville and partially runs along the banks of Trapper Lake. From beaver gnaw marks to deer tracks to raccoon scat, signs of wildlife are everywhere along this trail.
- Black River Trail: Moderate 1-1/2 mile loop. You will enjoy both nature and history along this trail. Black River Trail winds its way through the forest of Davidsonville and alongside the Black River. Turtles and other river animals may be spotted from this trail. Black River Trail also takes you to the older of the two cemeteries in the park, the Phillips/Reeves Cemetery. It is believed that this cemetery was used during the heyday of Davidsonville, from 1815.