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Venture out from Little Rock’s comfortable familiarity with a ghostly road trip through Arkansas. Visit the abandoned mining town of Rush; creep through Arkansas Post to see a deserted trading post that predates the country’s founding; poke around an eccentric Arkansan’s failed health resort and planned community in Monte Ne; and feel your spine stiffen while tiptoeing through Mount Tabor’s eerie church.
Arkansas is renowned for many things, including the breathless beauty of its rivers, caves, hot springs, and mountains. But amidst all that natural wonder lies the bones of communities abandoned long ago—all of them holding unique stories that remain mostly hidden away within the state’s formidable wilderness.
So, if you’re planning on driving off the beaten path and through Arkansas’ ghostly past, make sure you protect your vehicle with a robust—and ghost-proof, just trust us on this one—car insurance policy from Jerry. Get ready to explore these four Arkansas ghost towns.
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What’s the story of Rush?
Located within the northeastern portion of the Ozark Mountains, the abandoned town of Rush, Arkansas, sprang up as a mining center during the 1880s, when prospectors descended in droves after hearing Native American tales of silver mines in the area.
The smelting of ore (for zinc) from the nearby Buffalo River began in earnest, but little if any silver was actually found. Still, zinc smelting continued into the early 20th century, with the town reaching a peak population around the First World War. In fact, at one point, the town of Rush was Arkansas’ most populous city (those days are clearly over).
Rush’s fortunes went on a permanent and irreversible downturn in the period between the two world wars. The ore processing plants that employed many residents closed during the Second World War. The town’s lone post office survived into the 1950s before being shuttered.
The last of Rush’s residents? They stuck around into the 1960s before skipping town for good.
What makes Rush special?
It might be abandoned, but these days Rush is known as the Rush Historic District, and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987. This ghostly mining town and the surrounding trails are maintained by the National Park Service, as Rush is also part of Buffalo National River, a federally protected area. Here are some highlights to see when visiting Rush and the Buffalo National River area:
- Take in the empty town’s old log cabins, creaking homesteads, and disintegrating rock formations. You can even explore the town’s abandoned mines!
- This federally protected area is also great for fishing, canoeing, camping, and boating.
- The Buffalo National River is one of the last major undammed rivers in the lower 48 states.
- A 13,000-pound piece of zinc was found in Rush in 1883—it now resides at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
How to visit Rush
The Rush Historic District is located in the northeast portion of the Ozark Mountains and within the protected area of the Buffalo National River.
From Yellville, take AR-14 E and then Marion County 6035 to Rush. This drive should take just under half an hour.
If coming from Little Rock, head north on US-65 N to AR-27 N in Marshall, then take AR-27 N before heading west on AR-14 W to Marion County 6035. Total driving time will be about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
When you’re within the Buffalo National River protected area, don’t rely on GPS—it's been known to send drivers in the wrong direction. Instead, use an Arkansas Highway Map or a Buffalo National River Park Map to find your way around.
Pro Tip Also, be aware that access roads close to the river are mostly unpaved—some are rocky and you may need four-wheel drive to pass over them.
What’s the story of Arkansas Post?
Located within Arkansas County, Arkansas Post was founded in 1686 at the Quapaw village of Osotouy, by French explorer Henri de Tonti. Arkansas Post was the Lower Mississippi Valley’s first semi-permanent French settlement.
At the nexus of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers, this strategic trading post became vital to French, Spanish, and English explorers, as well as to the local Quapaw tribe. In 1783, Arkansas Post had its first (and only) taste of action during the Revolutionary War, a skirmish between British partisans and Spanish soldiers.
In 1821, Arkansas Post was anointed Arkansas Territory’s first capital, before Little Rock had the gall to claim that title for itself two years later.
What makes Arkansas Post special?
Arkansas Post sits on the Arkansas River, just west of its meeting point with the Mississippi River, about an hour and forty-minute drive southeast of Little Rock. The abandoned settlement sits within Arkansas Post National Memorial and is now overseen by the National Park Service. Here are some highlights:
- The area was designated a National Memorial in 1960.
- Technically, the area of Arkansas Post is home to four historic settlements, but unfortunately, three sit underwater, due to erosion, flooding, and the damming of canals and lakes.
- Still, there are plenty of trails that take you through the remaining abandoned settlement site, and you can fish in the area as well.
- Guided tours are also available, though reservations are required.
- You can also visit the Visitor Center and Museum located within the park.
How to visit Arkansas Post
From Little Rock, head south on I-530 S and then merge onto US-65 S. In Gould, turn left on to AR-212 E, and follow this road into Pendleton. Turn left on US-165 N, then turn right on State Hwy 169 and follow the signs to Arkansas Post National Memorial. This drive will take you about one hour and forty minutes.
If you’re visiting Arkansas Post from Memphis, Tennessee, head south on US-79 S before merging onto AR-1 S. Follow Old Post Road into the park. This drive will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
What’s the story of Monte Ne?
Monte Ne is an abandoned ghost town on the edge of Beaver Lake, situated in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas’ northwest corner, just east of the city of Rogers.
The story of Monte Ne is the story of an eccentric financial theorist named William Coin Harvey, an Arkansan who ran against FDR as the Liberty Party Presidential candidate in the 1932 election (spoiler alert—Harvey lost).
But before his failed bid for the White House, this quirky character had grand plans to turn Monte Ne into a kind of lakeside utopia, complete with a planned community and health resort that broke ground in 1901. In addition to the planned town, Monte Ne’s resort was to feature several structures along with an amphitheater, with buildings constructed of hewn logs, cement floors, and rooftop tiles.
However, this long-term project never turned into the lakeside idyll Harvey hoped for. By the 1930s, Harvey ran out of money (and he called himself a financial theorist?), the Monte Ne Resort closed, and the town of Monte Ne would eventually follow in failure.
The death of the Monte Ne community took longer, but, save for a girls' summer camp run out of the hotel’s abandoned buildings during the 1940s and 1950s, not much was happening. By the end of the 1950s, just a general store, a gas station, one restaurant, the summer camp, and a handful of residents remained.
In 1960, the damming of the White River spelled the end for Monte Ne, and most of it (though not all) is now underwater.
What’s special about Monte Ne?
Monte Ne is a ghost town where the dreams of an adventurous but ill-prepared Arkansan came to die. Since 1978, Monte Ne has been on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Here are some highlights when visiting this failed utopia on the banks of Beaver Lake:
- Monte Ne is the only place in Arkansas to ever host a Presidential convention.
- Only one of Monte Ne’s structures can be seen regularly above the water—Oklahoma Row was one of the structures of the Monte Ne resort.
- Oklahoma Row was the first reinforced concrete structure built in Arkansas.
- The Monte Ne Resort was ahead of its time—it featured rooms with fireplaces, elegant dining, and electric lighting, not to mention Arkansas’ first indoor pool.
- When Beaver Lake’s water level is low, you can see the steps of Harvey Amphitheatre.
How to visit Monte Ne
From Rogers, Arkansas, head onto S Monte NE Rd before continuing onto E New Hope Rd, which then becomes S Monte NE Rd again (just trust us). Then, merge left onto Oklahoma Dr and head into the historic area. This drive will only take about 10 minutes.
From Little Rock, drive three and a quarter hours via I-40 W and then I-49 N. Take exit 78 off I-49 N and merge on to AR-264 E. Turn left on US-71 BUS, turn right on W New Hope Rd, and follow this street (through several name changes) into Monte Ne.
What’s the story of Mount Tabor?
Established in 1854, the town of Mount Tabor was a farming community whose abandoned husk lies in Independence County. Mount Tabor’s best days were as a vibrant farming town way back in the latter half of the 19th century. Still, most people who frequented Mount Tabor actually lived in bigger communities nearby.
In 1932, the community became centered around the newly built Mount Tabor Church, which remains the only intact structure still standing in Mount Tabor. But with no utility poles nearby, there is no power to light it.
Other decaying homesteads and parts of buildings remain in Mount Tabor, but nary a soul has inhabited them for at least 40 years, and the only visitors they receive are erstwhile thrill-seekers…like you.
Mount Tabor’s last residents (the Crow family) left in the 1980s, and no one has called Mount Tabor home since.
What’s special about Mount Tabor?
Mount Tabor is a spooky, abandoned village with a standing church at its center. Here are some highlights of visiting this empty former farming village:
- Inside the Mount Tabor Church, you’ll find a still-functioning piano, church pews, and an old painting of Jesus Christ on the wall. Did you just hear someone tickling the ivories? Or was that just us…?
- The remaining parts of the Crow family house can still be seen from the road, but the house now rests on private property.
How to get to Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor is located off Highway 230 between the towns of Cave City and Strawberry. Turn off Hwy 230 onto Winchester Trail, and continue driving until you see the church.
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