What We Do

Preserve Arkansas Fall Ramble

Camden in Two Centuries: Life on the Ouachita

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Join us in November for a Ramble to Camden, the Ouachita County seat. Created in 1842, Ouachita County takes its name from the Ouachita River, which forms part of its eastern boundary. The word “Ouachita” is the French spelling of a Native American word that meant good hunting ground or a river with plenty of fish. In the early 19th century, Camden grew into a regional trading center because of its location on the Ouachita River. By the turn of the 20th century, multiple railroad lines expanded Camden’s cotton and timber industries, and the south Arkansas oil boom of the 1920s brought continued prosperity. Ramblers will learn about Camden’s history and architecture from the territorial days to the present.

Tickets for the Ramble are $125 and include motor coach transportation, historic site tours, snacks and libations on the bus, and meals. Half-day tickets are also available for those who don’t need bus transportation. Tickets for the half-day option, which includes lunch and dinner, are $65. Register by October 25; seating is limited. For more information, please contact Preserve Arkansas at 501-372-4757 or info@preservearkansas.org.

Preliminary Program

November 2, 2019

7:30 AM  Bus Departs from First Presbyterian Church – Argenta, 201 W. 4th Street, North Little Rock

9:30 AM  Tate’s Bluff
Located at the confluence of the Ouachita and Little Missouri rivers in northern Ouachita County, the Tate’s Bluff community was established by Captain Richard Tate in the early 19th century. Tate fought in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and then explored the rivers of the Louisiana Purchase by boat until he found this site. He convinced 89 people from his home in Tennessee to move with him to Tate’s Bluff. The oldest extant dwelling in Ouachita County is located at Tate’s Bluff. The log home was constructed in 1829 by John Henderson Tate, nephew of Richard Tate, and his wife, Ann Bryan Tate.

At this stop, we will see the 1829 Tate Cabin, a keelboat on the Ouachita River, and the Tate’s Bluff Fortification, an earthen fort built in 1864 by Confederate forces defending Camden during the Civil War.

11:10 AM  Poison Spring State Park
Poison Spring State Park commemorates the 1864 Civil War engagement at Poison Spring, in which Confederate troops ambushed Union soldiers in search of food and supplies. The action at Poison Spring was particularly horrific because Confederates killed members of the First Kansas Colored Infantry after the battle as they were trying to surrender. After this loss and others, Union General Frederick Steele retreated back to Little Rock instead of moving into northern Louisiana in an effort to invade Texas.

12:10 PM  Lunch at Postmasters Grill, 133 W. Washington Street, Camden **Half-day ticket holders will join us at Postmasters Grill. They will provide their own transportation.
Completed in 1896, the Old Camden Post Office was designed in the Romanesque Revival style and served its original purpose until 1963, when a new post office was built. The Old Post Office narrowly avoided demolition but was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It served as commercial rental space and later sat vacant until Emily Jordan-Robertson purchased it and rehabilitated the building from 2010 to 2012 using the Federal Historic Tax Credit. The Old Post Office is now home to Postmasters Grill, a restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine in the heart of downtown Camden.

Guests will enjoy lunch on the patio, followed by a tour of the Old Post Office.

1:40 PM  Ouachita County Historical Society, 926 W. Washington Street, Camden
Guests will tour the Greek Revival-style McCollum-Chidester House, built in 1847 by North Carolina merchant Peter McCollum with building materials shipped via steamboat from New Orleans. The McCollum-Chidester House contains many of its original furnishings and is now operated as a museum. Ramblers will also view special displays about Camark pottery in the Leake-Ingham Building, originally constructed in 1850 to serve as the law office of attorney William Leake and later, a Freedmen’s Bureau office.

3:10 PM  Graham-Gaughan-Betts House, 710 W. Washington
Built ca. 1856, the Graham-Gaughan-Betts House was constructed for Major Joseph M. Graham and his wife, Mary Washington Graham. Modeled after a home in North Carolina, the house featured some of the plainness of the antebellum Greek Revival style, with the exception of its elaborate front porch. The house was later purchased by Thomas Joseph Gaughan, Sr., a prominent attorney and state legislator, who also had interests in timber and oil. The home has been in the Betts family since the 1970s.

Guests will tour the home.

4:15 PM Beer tasting in downtown Camden

5:30 PM  Oakland Cemetery Walk, Maul Road and Pearl Street NE
The land for Oakland Cemetery was donated by Major William Bradley in the early 1830s, and the oldest marked grave dates from that decade. Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable Camden residents and contains a Confederate section with the bodies of soldiers killed in 1864 at Poison Spring and Marks’ Mills. Members of the Ouachita County Historical Society will portray early Camden settlers and residents during the Cemetery Walk.

6:30 PM  Dinner at the Elliott-Meek-Nunnally House, 761 W. Washington
Built in 1858-59, the Elliott-Meek-Nunnally House was designed in the Greek Revival style. The house features a full-length, two-story front porch supported by Doric columns, two sets of paneled doors with multi-pane transoms and sidelights, and triple-hung windows. The home was built for Judge James T. Elliott and remained in that family until 1916, when it was purchased by Camden attorney Albert Meek. Albert died at a young age, but his widow, Emma, raised their children in this house. The Nunnally family purchased the house in 1976. Robert Nunnally was a physician and his wife, Anne, taught English at Fairview High School. They are now deceased, and the house was recently purchased by Mike Cox.

Guest will enjoy a catered dinner from Woods Place at the Elliott-Meek-Nunnally House.

8 PM  Bus departs for North Little Rock

10 PM  Bus arrives at First Presbyterian Church – Argenta

Thank you to our 2019 Ramble Sponsors!

Ouachita County Historical Society

Woods Place