Black River Overlook Park and the Civil War Trail
Pocahontas and The St. Charles B&B stand on a hill overlooking the Black River. This hill, and the town, were once known as “Bettis Bluff”, after Ranson (or Ransom) Bettis, the town’s founder. Nobody really knows why the town was renamed Pocahontas. Lots of theories exist, but proof seems lost to the ages.
The banks of the Black River were once home to the “Port of Pocahontas,” the busiest river port in the area during the steamboat era. Before the railroad came to town, the steamboats brought people and goods to this part of Arkansas via the Black River and our river port.
That port is now Black River Overlook Park, which, along with the river, is what you see when you look out the rear windows of The St. Charles. It’s a park with so many features I’ll need to break it up over two or three blog posts. In this post I’ll discuss the Pocahontas Civil War River Walk Memorial.
During the Civil War, the Port of Pocahontas was a major Confederate supply point for the Confederate armies headquartered in Pocahontas, including The Army of the West under Major General Earl Van Doren, The Army of Northern Arkansas under General Hardee, and the Confederate Army of Missouri under General Sterling Price. It was also the site of the first Confederate Military Hospital in Arkansas.
The Park today, on its upper level, contains a series of 6 historic markers explaining the historic importance of the Black River and the Port, including its Civil War significance. Also at that level is another historic marker dedicated to the history of Randolph County in the Civil War years.
In the Park’s lower level, along the Black River, is the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail, a series of 6 historic markers established in 2006 along a paved trail. There’s a custom-made bench at each marker, featuring the outline of the cupola of our 1872 courthouse. The markers tell the story of Randolph County’s Civil War history in detail, including several major skirmishes in the county. Listed are all units, both Confederate and Union, stationed in the county, description of the capture of General Jeff Thompson, the 1863 burning of Pocahontas by Union forces, and many other significant events that occurred in Randolph County during the war.
Below are images of a few of the markers in Overlook Park.