Territorial Arkansas: The Wild West Frontier, a free traveling exhibit produced by the Arkansas State Archives, will be displayed at Historic Washington State Park Feb. 1 – May 31, 8-5 daily at the 1874 Courthouse Visitor Center.
On March 2, 1819, Pres. James Monroe signed a congressional act that established Arkansas Territory from the southern portion of Missouri Territory. The new territory was a wild frontier on the western edge of the United States, where politicians settled debates by deadly duels.
Formerly a colony of France and Spain, the land had only become part of the United States 16 years prior as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After its creation, Arkansas Territory had an influx of settlers who established small communities and isolated homesteads. Territorial and county governments were set up, businesses opened, and workers of various trades moved to the territory to help it flourish. Initially Arkansas Territory included what is now Oklahoma, but through changes in boundary lines and the relocation of Native Americans further and further west, the territory’s land was reduced to its present size in 1828. After 17 years as a territory, Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836, as the 25th state.
“I am very pleased that Historic Washington State Park is sharing Territorial Arkansas: The Wild West Frontier with their visitors and community,” stated Dr. David Ware, the Arkansas State Archives’ Director. “Created to commemorate the Bicentennial of Arkansas Territory, this exhibit allows us to bring the incredible Arkansas Territory resources of the Arkansas State Archives to local communities throughout the state.”
Founded in 1905, the Arkansas State Archives is dedicated to collecting and preserving the documentary history of Arkansas. The Arkansas State Archives is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. The mission of Arkansas Heritage, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, is to identify Arkansas’s heritage and enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors by the discovery, preservation and presentation of the state’s natural, cultural and historic resources. For more information about the exhibit at Historic Washington State Park, call (870) 983-2684, or visit www.HistoricWashingtonStatePark.com.