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Historic Washington State Park
(or Old Washington Historic State Park)
near Hope, Arkansas
July 26, 2008

Webpage by
Paul Ridenour
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Photographs after the text

2nd Annual Red River Region Heritage Symposium

Charles Steger told me about the symposium.  I had no idea what it was going to be about.  I just knew that I would leave my house at around 7 AM to make it to his house before 10 AM.  We were meeting Patti Haskins, Mark Armstrong, and Bob Vernon. We left a little late and had lunch in Hope, Arkansas, at the Western Sizzlin, one of Bill Clinton's favorite spots when he is in town.  It is next to the Best Western.  Before we made it to Hope, we saw over 20,000 motor and mobile homes parked next to the Hope airport.  It looked like rows and rows of crop as far as the eye could see.  I cannot describe it to you.  These are owned by FEMA.  What a terrible site and we paid for it.  What a waste!

We registered [$20] at the state park visitor center just before 1 PM when the symposium started.  Red River Region and these symposiums are all about four states that come together with all of the history of Caddo Indians, archeology, early explorers, and of course, the Red River's importance to the area.  The four states area include Northeast Texas, Southeast Oklahoma, Southwest Arkansas, and Northwest Louisiana.

Today we will be listening to four speakers from 1 PM to 5 PM.  Afterwards, we will gel a tour of the blacksmith shop and dinner at 6 PM.  After dinner, one of the speakers will finish his seminar.

The speakers included Dr. Dan Flores, who spoke about the failed "Freeman and Custis Expedition," Gary Pinkerton and "Trammel's Trace," Dr. James Batson on the "Bowie knife," and David Jeane spoke about "Sulphur Fork."

The "Freeman and Custis Expedition" of 1806 was the second expedition after "Lewis and Clark" and the brainchild of President Thomas Jefferson.  This second "southern" expedition had twice as much money, 54 people, and would prove if the Red River from Natchitoches, LA, would extend and end at Santa Fe, NM.  Freeman and Custis were confronted by hostile Spaniards after 650 miles and 6 months of travel.  They followed Jefferson's instructions and turned around and came home.  The area where they were forced to turn back is still called Spanish Bluff today and it is in Bowie County, Texas.  Dr. Flores has written a book on the subject titled Southern Counterpart to Lewis and Clark: The Freeman and Custis Expedition of 1806.  These two men should be household names if it were not for the failure of the expedition.  The confrontation almost resulted in a war between the US and Spain.  Read more about it here at Texas Handbook Online - http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/RR/upr2_print.html

"Trammels Trace" was the earliest road into Texas and one that was taken by Bowie, Austin, Houston, and Crockett.  Gary Pinkerton grew up next to the road on his family's property and was fascinated by the thought that these men came through the area.  For more information on this old road, go to www.trammelstrace.org.

It is believed that James Black, at his blacksmith shop in Old Washington, made the first Bowie knife.  There is still no concrete proof.

Dinner was a buffet at the WPA Gym.  Afterwards, Dr. Flores showed us a PowerPoint presentation and what Freeman and Custis would have found or not found, as the Red River begins at Palo Duro Canyon and is 300 miles from Santa Fe.

The symposium was very good and there were close to 65 people in attendance.  It was a very hot day and we were inside the schoolhouse which only had one of the two ceiling fans turned on.  It was a little warm in the room and I had a difficult time keeping from nodding off.

The historic state park has many old homes and churches.  I took a few pictures of the area before it got too dark.  We left about 9 PM.  Needless to say, I got home late.


Charles in his rain forest front yard


A mouse peeks out from a hole in the ground in the above rain forest


FEMA [taken from the car window]


Charles Steger, Bob Vernon, Mark Armstrong, and Patti Haskins at Western Sizzlin (Hope, Arkansas)


1874 Hempstead County Courthouse - Visitors Center


Old huge trees


Washington Schoolhouse (1914)


Dr. Dan Flores speaking on Thomas Jefferson's "Freeman and Custis Expedition"


A Bowie knife


Bob and Mark


Charles Steger is in his element talking to Park Historian Josh Williams


Historical marker for the James Black's Bowie knife


James Black's Blacksmith Shop, where he made the Bowie knife here in 1831


Dr. Dan Flores "and it was this big"


Mark, Dan, and Charles discussing picosecond dynamics and coherence in isolated molecules


Magnolia tree planted in 1839


One tree growing in three places


The Magnolia tree with hanging branches on both sides creates what looks like two more trees


Charles explaining to Mark why there is no God


To his surprise, God appears to Charles while Mark is oblivious


Dr. Dan Flores at the head waters of the Red River, and pretending to be the Son of God [photographer unknown]


Head waters of the Red River at Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas [photo by Dr. Dan Flores]


Block-Catts House (circa 1832)


Royston Log House (circa 1835)


Williams Tavern Restaurant (circa 1832)


Oldest Methodist church west of the Mississippi (1861)


Baptist church


Courthouse at night


1836 Hempstead County Courthouse, where Stephen F. Austin presided, and at one time, the Arkansas Confederate Capitol