Jacksonport State Park
Jacksonport State Park is a state park located in Jackson County, Arkansas, notable for containing the Jacksonport courthouse. From 1872 until 1892, the courthouse was the home of Jackson County’s government, mainly due to its location as a port town for steamboats. Today, the courthouse and its surrounding area serve as a historical state park due to the efforts of the Jackson County Historical Society, and has served as a state park since June of 1965.
Backstory and Context
In the 1820s, the area of Jacksonport, Arkansas became a hugely influential trading post along the Black and White rivers for the development of and settlement of the state. As steamboats became more prevalent in the 1930s, Jacksonport slowly gained more significance in the eyes of Jackson County, and in 1954, it was decided that the county’s seat of justice would be moved from Augusta to Jacksonport. Due to the influence of the Civil War, however, it was decided that Jacksonport would not receive a proper courthouse until the war ended. A contract for the courthouse was signed in 1869, and in a few short years, the courthouse was completed in 1872.
As the Jacksonport courthouse was beginning to gain ground and workers, the Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad began building a railroad through Jackson County. They proposed to Jacksonport an agreement that for $25,000 they would build their railroad through the town, but this was refused, with the town adamant that the Railroad would build through them anyways. The town was incorrect in this assumption, though, as it was instead built closer to the town of Newport. As a result, Newport flourished while Jacksonport fell into decline, and in 1892, Newport was given the seat of justice. After being stripped of its previous title, the Jacksonport courthouse was used for numerous purposes in the following decades, such as a schoolhouse. When the building was put up for sale in 1961, however, it was purchased by the Jackson County Historical Society, who began restoration efforts on the courthouse. By its dedication on June 5th, 1965, the Jacksonville Courthouse State Park included the restored courthouse, as well as additional land and structures purchased by the Society. Since then, the name has changed to the Jacksonport State Park, and it has served the community by providing visitors with the history of and experiences of old Jacksonport.