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, January 14, 2010
The Historic City of Van Buren, Arkansas
If the streets of the beautiful Arkansas city of Van Buren look familiar, there probably is a good reason.
The Arkansas River community doubled for Biloxi, Mississippi, in Matthew Broderick's popular film "Biloxi Blues." The movie made use of numerous settings in and around Van Buren and nearby Fort Smith, including the Boston Mountains, downtown Van Buren and the Arkansas River.
First settled as a trading post and timbering community, Van Buren gained its present name in 1831 when a post office was established there. The name honors Martin Van Buren, who ironically had not yet become President of the United States when the town was named for him.
A stop on the famed Butterfield Overland Stage Route in the years before the Civil War, the growing town saw its commerce all but die during the war years. Occupied by Confederate troops for the first two years of the war, Van Buren played an important role in both the Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove campaigns and the graves of scores of Confederate soldiers can be seen in the city's Fairview Cemetery.
Actual fighting reached the city when it was attacked by the Union Army of the Frontier on December 28, 1862. The attacking force arrived so fast that the citizens of Van Buren were stunned by cavalry riding and fighting along their main street as they watched from the wooden sidewalks.
Today, Van Buren is a charming and prosperous city with a beautiful downtown area. It boasts numerous historic sites and is popular with visitors. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/vanburen.