This blog is devoted to exploring the history, historic sites and heritage tourism opportunities of the American South! A guide to new additions and updates to the expansive site www.exploresouthernhistory.com, this blog features forts, battlefields, Native American sites, architectural treasures and natural wonders.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Siloam Springs, Arkansas - Historic City on the Oklahoma Border
First settled in around 1835, the modern city of Siloam Springs gained life as an important trading post located just inside the line dividing Arkansas from the Cherokee Nation of what is now Oklahoma.
During the Civil War, the area was devastated by passing armies. Blunt's Division of the Union Army of the Frontier spent much of 1862 camped just north of Siloam Springs and his foraging parties ravaged the area as they searched for food, forage and other supplies. Blunt intentionally destroyed private homes belong to secessionist families across the area and drove the inhabitants away from their lands and farms. Two significant battles - Old Fort Wayne and Prairie Grove - were fought nearby in 1862.
After the war, the area slowly rebounded and in 1879 notice was taken of the numerous mineral springs in the vicinity. The city of Siloam Springs was incorporated in 1881 as visitors swarmed the area in the belief that "taking the waters" of mineral springs could heal them from numerous illnesses and ailments. Within one year of its incorporation, 3,000 people lived in Siloam Springs and the city did a brisk business as a health resort.
A major flood destroyed much of the downtown area in 1892, all but ending the city's days as a health resort. The railroad soon arrived, however, and the community rebounded as an important trading center for the agricultural districts along the border. Siloam Springs today is a charming city with a beautiful downtown area that preserves some of the more than two dozen natural springs in the area. It is also the home of John Brown University and is located just across the border from Oklahoma's famed Natural Falls State Park, setting for the popular movie, "Where the Red Fern Grows."