Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment
Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment

OLD U.S. 71, GREENLAND SEGMENT, GREENLAND, WASHINGTON COUNTY

SUMMARY

SUMMARY
Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion C for its engineering.  Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is the longest and most intact portion of the old alignment of U.S. 71 in the Greenland vicinity.  The Greenland segment of U.S. 71, which is approximately 0.75 miles long, still retains its original 1930 concrete pavement.  The highway section was the main automobile route in that part of Washington County from the time of its construction in 1930 until the current U.S. 71 was built to the northeast of it in 1980.  As a result, it is therefore eligible for nomination under Criterion A for its association with the development of Arkansas highway culture.  Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is being submitted to the National Register of Historic Places under the multiple property listing “Arkansas Highway and Transportation Era Architecture, 1910-1965” in conjunction with the historic context “Arkansas Highway History and Architecture, 1910-1965.”

ELABORATION

ELABORATION
The first regular exploration in the area that would become Greenland began c. 1819 with Frank Pierce.  He traveled up the White River to trap and hunt, and continued along the West Fork of the White River.  As he traveled along the West Fork, he came within a couple of miles of the location of Fayetteville and came across a herd of buffalo.  While trying to kill one of the buffalo for his supper, he saw a band of Indians nearby.  Instead of killing a buffalo, he lowered his gun, dropped back beneath the riverbank, and spent the night by a large elm tree.  Although he continued on his journey the next day, eventually going to Lewisburg in Conway County and Batesville in Independence County, he never forgot the place of the elm tree.  He returned to the spot and settled there permanently c. 1828.

The establishment of Washington County and Arkansas’s western border began in 1820 with the creation of Crawford County by the Arkansas territorial legislature.  Four years later, Congress passed a bill that moved the western boundary of the Arkansas territory 40 miles to the west, although white settlers were not allowed to establish residence in the new area due to an 1817 treaty.  In 1827 the Secretary of War lifted the ban on white settlement in the Cherokee country, and on October 13, 1827, Lovely County was created by the Arkansas territorial legislature.  The following year, a treaty moved the territorial boundary 40 miles to the east, to its present location, and on October, 17, 1828, the territorial legislature created Washington County out of Lovely County, which ceased to exist.  

Although settlement began in Washington County and the Greenland area in the early 1800s, it was not until the arrival of the railroad that the region really began to develop.  Leaders in the area had the construction of a railroad in the area as a goal prior to the Civil War.  However, it took many years before it was finally accomplished.  In 1868, the Arkansas legislature granted aid of $15,000 per mile to the Northwestern Railroad Border Company for the completion of a railroad from Missouri to Van Buren through Fayetteville and Bentonville.  However, they were not able to accomplish it.

The completion of a railroad line through Washington County would not happen until the Frisco decided to undertake construction in the late 1870s.  The Frisco surveyed two lines through Washington County, one through Prairie Grove Valley and one through Fayetteville.  Businessmen in the Fayetteville area influenced the Frisco’s decision by purchasing right-of-way for the line from Missouri to Fayetteville for $8,000 and also contributing $2,500 for a depot in Fayetteville.

When the first train arrived in Fayetteville on June 8, 1881, it was a great occasion.  Approximately 10,000 people greeted it, and J. R. Pettigrew, who was the publisher of the Arkansas Sentinel, commented, “Fayetteville, and Northwest Arkansas, are exuberant with joy.  We are entering a new era; the humdrum of the stage coach days is past, we are out of the old grooves; the steam is up, the bell is ringing and we plunge into the stirring active scenes of the new life.”

It was the arrival of the railroad in Washington County that brought about the founding of Greenland.  The town originated as a railroad stop named Rugby in 1882.  In 1886, however, the name of the settlement was changed to Staunton, and the name changed again to Greenland in 1909.

Exactly when the route of U.S. 71 came into existence is unknown, but it was initially nothing more than a wagon road.  The first automobiles appeared in Washington County around 1905, most notably when a Texan drove a two-cylinder Model F Buick into Fayetteville.   Improvement of the road, however, did not begin in earnest until the passing of the Alexander Road Law on March 30, 1915, which specified the qualifications that had to be met in order to form a road improvement district.  Residents along the roads east of Fayetteville to Goshen and along the route south to Winslow petitioned for a highway, and formed Road District No. 2.  Once the district was formed, bonds were sold to complete the improvement of the roads.

The improvement of the road in Washington County began in March 1920 from at the Crawford/Washington County line and moved north.  The first major task was to widen the route, and the first workers were inmates from the state penitentiary.  (Later on, however, free workers replaced the convicts in completing the work.)  By the summer of 1924, the road had been graded, and it was then graveled.  Native stone along the right-of-way formed the base, and then clay and creek gravel formed the middle layer over which the final gravel layer was placed.

In the late 1920s, the route of the Jefferson Highway, which was to span the country from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans, was moved to Western Arkansas from Eastern Oklahoma.  Promoters who were involved with the highway said:

The road extending from Mineral to Greenwood Shoals is to be the best highway in the nation.  It is the desire of the commissioners to have the taxpayers of the road improvement district furnish as much of the gravel and labor as possible.

The highway will be 22 feet wide, ditch to ditch.  The road will have a gravel crown 14 feet wide.  The gravel will have a depth of 8 inches in the center of the road, tapering to 6 inches gravel depth at the edges.

Under the new designation, the route of U.S. 71 was eligible for paving.

The contract for the improvement of the Greenland segment of U.S. 71 and the construction of the bridge on the segment involved two different contractors.  The contract for the improvement of the “Fayetteville-North & South Road” segment of the highway, which includes the Greenland segment, was awarded to the Porter Construction Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  According to the Ninth Biennial Report of the Arkansas State Highway Commission, the nature of the work included grading, drainage structures, and concrete pavement.  The paving work done on the Greenland segment of highway, was not only a state project, but a federal project as well (Project #254-A).  Their proposal for the project was received May 15, 1929.  For the entire 7.812 miles of road (State Job #491), which includes the section being nominated at Greenland, they submitted a bid of $174,842.00, and estimated that it would take 180 calendar days to finish the project.  However, the final cost of the paving ended up being $178,369.35.
 
The contract for the construction of the bridges between Fayetteville and Winslow was awarded to the Maxwell Construction Company of Columbus, Kansas.  The bridge project, unlike the paving, was apparently only a state project and did not receive federal assistance.  Their proposal for eight reinforced concrete and structural steel bridges spanning a total of 1795 feet was received by the Highway Commission on January 21, 1930.  Maxwell Construction Company estimated a completion time of 250 calendar days and a cost of $116,136.27.  However, the final cost of the bridges ended up being less than estimated at $114,404.45.

The official opening of the paved road was August 15, 1930, and once U.S. 71 was completed in Greenland vicinity, it made travel in the area a lot easier.   The fact that this portion of U.S. 71 was the main route between Fayetteville and Fort Smith meant that it was also a highly traveled road for both automobile and truck traffic.  The amount of traffic using U.S. 71 ultimately led to the construction of the current U.S. 71 to the northeast.  The new highway was opened to traffic in 1980.

Today the entire length of the old alignment of the U.S. 71 Greenland segment is still in use as Washington County Road 1194, and it is still possible to drive the entire segment of the alignment being nominated.  Remarkably, all of the alignment retains the original 1930 concrete pavement, although some portions have been patched.  However, the pavement retains its original dimensions.  As a result, it is still easy to recognize the original 1930 construction.

U.S. 71 was the main highway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith until the construction of I-540 in recent years.  However, it is still a main highway for local traffic.  Due to the amount of traffic that uses the highway, much of the road has been upgraded to current highway standards.  Early sections of the highway are rare, especially ones that are still drivable.  As a result, the old alignment of U.S. 71 in the Greenland vicinity remains an extremely intact example of early highway design and construction, and a tangible reminder of early highway travel in Washington County.

SIGNIFICANCE

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion C for its engineering.  Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is the longest and most intact portion of the old alignment of U.S. 71 in the Greenland vicinity.  The Greenland segment of U.S. 71, which is approximately 0.75 miles long, still retains its original 1930 concrete pavement.  The highway section was the main automobile route in that part of Washington County from the time of its construction in 1930 until the current U.S. 71 was built to the northeast of it in 1980.  As a result, it is therefore eligible for nomination under Criterion A for its association with the development of Arkansas highway culture.  Old U.S. 71, Greenland Segment, is being submitted to the National Register of Historic Places under the multiple property listing “Arkansas Highway and Transportation Era Architecture, 1910-1965” in conjunction with the historic context “Arkansas Highway History and Architecture, 1910-1965.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Arkansas State Highway Commission.  Ninth Biennial Report of the Arkansas State Highway Commission.  Russellville, AR:  Russellville Printing Company, 1930.

History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas.  Chicago:  The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.

History of Washington County, Arkansas.  Springdale, AR:  Shiloh Museum, 1989.

McCommas, Betty.  The History of Sevier County and Her People (1803-1936).  Dallas:  Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.