Saturday, March 24, 2012

Collecting stamps on a sunny late March afternoon

NEWPORT, Ark. - I’m collecting stamps in my Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport this afternoon. Garmin says the nearest stamping destination, now that I’ve been to Chalk Bluff and Pocahontas, is Jacksonport State Park near Newport.
It’s about a 125-mile round trip ride to the park and a pleasant ride it was with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.
So what does Jacksonport State Park have to do with the Civil War? Here’s what the park’s web site says:
In the 1800s steamboats made Jacksonport a thriving river port. During the Civil War, the town was occupied by both Confederate and Union forces because of its crucial locale. Jacksonport became county seat in 1854, and construction of a stately, two-story brick courthouse began in 1869. The town began to decline in the 1880s when bypassed by the railroad. The county seat was moved in 1891 to nearby Newport, and Jacksonport's stores, wharves and saloons soon vanished.
Today, exhibits in the park's 1872 courthouse and programs by park interpreters share the story of this historic river port. Admission to the courthouse is free.
Here’s my bike parked in front of the information center with the historic courthouse in the background. The center was locked up tight when I arrived, but a young woman drove by in an SUV, made a cell phone call or two and I barely had time to clean my visor and windscreen before a guy showed up to let me in and stamp my passport. Seems the woman who was supposed to staff the information center today called in sick. Whatever. I got my stamp.

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