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Floating the Arkansas—The 19th Century Way

Historic Arkansas Museum - Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alex Pappas, Ann Pappas and their guests (David and Faye Bard, Martin Hauer-Jensen and Cynthia Ross) recently had the unique opportunity to step back in time on a keel boat excursion down the Arkansas River. The boat trip was purchased by Alex Pappas at the 2004 Candlelight Gala, an event that raised money for the museum's collection of Arkansas Made. The Early Arkansaw Re-enactor's Association (EARA) donated to the museum this once-in-a-lifetime, 19th century-style journey down river to Cadron Settlement Park. There the group enjoyed a meal much like what would have been served more than 150 years ago.

The experience began when the travelers arrived at Historic Arkansas Museum where they were fitted with period clothing and then transported upriver from Cadron Settlement Park near Conway. They then boarded, along with the crew, the 40' keel boat Aux Arc, an authentic replica built by EARA members of a pre-1840 boat.

Although they all made it safely to their destination, it wasn't without a brush with pirates. The brave crew and passengers managed to escape unscathed. The pirates, of course, were re-enactors who had planned the "attack" unbeknownst to the travelers.

Once they arrived at the Cadron Settlement, they were greeted and gawked at by commoners who were intrigued by the newcomers. EARA had set up an environment that reflected the history of the Cadron Settlement, a place that in the early 1800s made an attempt to be named the state capital. However, Little Rock was named capital and later, county seat. In the years after as settlers moved or died, Cadron all but disappeared. Today, Cadron Settlement Park includes a reproduction of the blockhouse that has been documented in the Cadron of yesteryear. It was in the blockhouse that the travelers were served a bountiful meal of white corn chowder, currant-apple salad, deer roast and blackberry cobbler among other delights.

More than 40 people, mostly EARA members, were involved in making this adventure happen. The museum is grateful to EARA for donating their knowledge, time and effort--they really made Arkansas history come alive. And we thank Alex and Ann Pappas who by purchasing this auction item at the Gala has helped keep Arkansas history alive--the funds raised help the museum collect and preserve Arkansas-made objects.