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Jan/Feb 2011 Issue

Discover Louisiana’s great outdoors at three new parks

Louisiana added a bevy of new campgrounds and parks recently that not only showcases the beauty of the state but examines its rich history.

Bogue Chitto State Park near Franklinton was the first in a series of additions to the family of state parks. Opened in August, the park features four upland cabins, a lodge that accommodates up to 14 people overlooking a 90-foot bluff, 81 RV camping sites, a visitor center, picnic pavilions, fishing piers on the Bogue Chitto River, a water playground and nature trails. For details, call (888) 677-7312 or (985) 839-5707.

Palmetto Island State Park near Abbeville finally opened after delays due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The $13 million park has six two-bedroom cabins, a 96-site campground, visitor center, water playground and more. Note that the state is seeking donations to keep the park open beyond January. For more details, call (888) 677-0094 or (337) 893-3930.

The most recent addition to the state’s recreational areas is Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site in Pineville. The two forts were part of the Red River Campaign during the Civil War. Constructed on the Red River at Alexandria by Rebels to repel Union attacks in northwest Louisiana, the earthen forts never saw battle.

The $4.4 million site, which opened in November, includes a visitor center, a boardwalk around both fort sites and an overlook near the remains of Bailey’s Dam on the Red River, which was called “one of the greatest engineering feats of the Civil War.” For details, call (877) 677-7437 or (318) 484-2390.

While not a new park, Chicot State Park in Ville Platte has added two new lodges that sleep up to 14 people and include a full kitchen, living room, dining room and covered patio. For details, call (888) 677-2442 or (337) 363-2403.

Visit for more details on Louisiana parks. Reserve a lodge or cabin at or call (877) 226-7652.


A fishing pier at Bogue Chitto State Park (above) and a cabin tucked into the woods of Palmetto Island State Park (below). Louisiana State Parks photo



History soars at the Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville

The Golden Age of Flight still sparkles in the Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville, where planes dating from the 1920s are joined by modern aircraft in a sterling showcase of aviation history.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the museum opened in 1986 in an all-wooden hangar at Fayetteville’s Drake Field. One of the nation’s few remaining wooden hangars from the World War II era, it is fitting that the building would become the museum site because it has been at the center of northwest Arkansas’s aviation history.

Within the large structure, known simply as the White Hangar, is a mixture of classic aircraft in flight service condition from the 1920s and 1930s, modern planes and static displays of military aircraft from the Vietnam era. Many of the historical planes on display are in flying condition, and some are on loan from owners who take them to air shows.

Among the collection are an authentic World War I-era Curtiss OX-5 engine, a City of Fayetteville flag that flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, open-cockpit biplanes, two Huey helicopters and a U.S. Navy A4-C Skyhawk fighter jet. Sam Walton’s first airplane is even in the collection, a tribute to the founder of Walmart whose first store was in nearby Bentonville. Other items on display include photos, uniforms and memorabilia.

Drake Field is located on U.S. Highway 71. Museum hours are 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children 6–12 and free for children 5 and under. For details, call (479) 521-4947 or visit

air museum

Visitors getting an up-close look at one of the museum’s planes. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo


New Orleans’ Memorial Hall guards Rebel relics

When Memorial Hall was dedicated in 1891, Col. Joseph Chalaron, a Confederate artillery soldier and the first curator of the Civil War museum, said the sacred objects in the museum must be guarded with the “tender care with which a mother watches over her child.”

True to his words, the museum in New Orleans, La., has been vigilantly watching over its compelling artifacts for 120 years, and during the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War this year, the museum’s collection will be more poignant and prominent than ever. Known officially as Louisiana’s Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall, the museum contains the nation’s second-largest array of Confederate memorabilia, including uniforms, weapons, flags, photographs and more.

The oldest continually operating museum in the state, Memorial Hall was founded by Confederate veterans of Louisiana. The veterans and their families donated more than 90 percent of the items now exhibited in the museum. In addition, 90,000 of their war-related documents are housed at Tulane University in New Orleans and are available for research purposes.

The museum is located at 929 Camp St. in the Warehouse District. Hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The museum subsists solely from donations, gift shop profits and membership dues. For details, visit or call (504) 523-4522.


The museum has the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia. Memorial Hall photo

From one arrowhead grew an amazing collection of Native American artifacts

The Hampson Archeological Museum in Wilson, Ark., will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, but the origins of the museum actually date to 1887 when 10-year-old James Hampson traded a marble for an arrowhead.

That was the beginning of Hampson’s life-long study of the ancient Native Americans who lived along the Mississippi River in northeast Arkansas. The Nodena Site, named after the Hampson family farm, was home to a highly organized tribe of Mississippian Indians who lived in the area from about 1400 to 1650 A.D.

Hampson and his family collected and cataloged more than 40,000 items from the site, many of which they displayed in an abandoned plantation store. After Hampson died in 1956, they donated many of the items to the state, which built a museum and dedicated the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in 1961.

The museum displays about 350 artifacts, including examples of the Nodena Red and White pottery, which experts rank among the most remarkable prehistoric vessels found in North America.

The museum, which is on U.S. Highway 61, is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. For more details, visit or call (870) 655-8622.


The museum’s pottery collection is notable. Arkansas Depart-ment of Parks and Tourism photo

Camellia show will blossom in Brookhaven

Camellia lovers from across the South will descend on Brookhaven, Miss., on the first weekend in February to compete for top honors in the 49th Annual Brookhaven Camellia Show.

Attracting more than 500 camellia fans, growers and judges from at least six states, the show features more than 1,000 blooms that will be on display, which will be a welcome sight for Southerners itching for spring.

The 2011 Brookhaven Camellia Show will be held Feb. 5–6 at the Brookhaven Recreation Department on U.S. Highway 51 North. It’s free and open to the public on Saturday from 2–5 p.m. and Sunday from noon–4 p.m. American Camellia Society certified judges will begin evaluating entries at noon on Saturday. Camellia plants will be on sale all day Saturday from 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

Event organizers with the Brookhaven Camellia Society say this show is an excellent opportunity for the public to garner gardening tips from the pros and purchase excellent specimens for their own home gardens.

For more information about the show, click on, or call (601) 833-4126.

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