Scenic USA - Arkansas
Each day Scenic USA presents a new and interesting photo feature from somewhere in the United States. Chosen from a wide variety
of historic sites, city scenes, backcountry byways, points of interest and America's best parklands, this site offers the viewer hundreds
of unique vacation destinations and photographic subjects. Each feature is coupled with a brief explanation. For further detailed
information, links to other sites are provided, but are never to be considered an endorsement.
A military road, linking Saint Louis with Fort Smith, Arkansas, was first established in the 1820s. This 500 mile route took on many names over the years. Used to move thousands of American Natives westward, it became known as the Trail of Tears. Just before the Civil War, this route was heavily used by the Butterfield Overland Stage. And during the Civil War, troops dubbed this route Telegraph Road or simply Wire Road.
Along this 20 foot wide vital highway it's no surprise to find an inn. Built in 1833 by William Ruddick and son-in-law Samuel Burks, here the two families watched more than 11,000 Indians pass by on their heartbreaking journey to territories in the west. The tavern and 313 acres were sold to Jesse and Polly Cox in 1858. Noted as a place of abundant good cheer, Jesse Cox added white painted clapboard siding and an exterior staircase for members of the Benton County Baptist Society. Elk horns were mounted on the ridge pole, giving the inn and tavern its name.
The tavern was surrounded by both Union and Confederate forces in 1862 during the Battle of Pea Ridge, taking many rounds of fire. A cannon ball, hitting the upper floor, did the most damage. After the battle, the tavern doubled as a field hospital, telegraph station and headquarters for Union generals. Burned in 1863 by Confederate rebels, the Cox family returned after the war to rebuild the tavern on its original foundation.
The Elkhorn Tavern was turned over to the National Parks Service in 1960. The two story inn is now the centerpiece for the Pea Ridge National Military Park. Restored to its 1862 appearance, the tavern is open daily for visitor tours.
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