Friday, September 5, 2008
Hardy (Sharp County)
July 12, 1894
Located in northern Arkansas on the Spring River, Hardy (Sharp County) was established in 1883 as a result of the construction of the Kansas City, Springfield, and Memphis Railroad. The town emerged in the twentieth century as a popular tourist destination for Mid-southerners seeking the natural beauty of the Ozark foothills.
Old Sharp County Courthouse
Old Sharp County Courthouse in Hardy. Its official use was discontinued in 1967 when Ash Flat was named the new consolidated county seat.
Downtown Hardy (Sharp County); circa 1950.
The Arkansas General Assembly’s 1867 decision to pay companies $10,000 for every mile of track laid led to a statewide boom in railway construction. The Kansas City, Springfield, and Memphis Railroad through Arkansas was built, at least in part, because of this incentive.
Hidden Valley office in Hardy (Sharp County).
Named for railroad contractor James A. Hardy of Batesville (Independence County), the town was developed on 600 acres of land by early settler Walker Clayton in 1883 to service the needs of travelers. Residents wanted to name the town Forty Islands after a nearby creek, but the U.S. Post Office insisted on Hardy because that designation was used to deliver mail to railroad workers in the area. This was not the last time an outsider influenced the direction of Hardy’s development.
Old 1894 Sharp County Courthouse in Hardy, remodeled after a 1974 fire destroyed the second and third floors.
When Hardy was incorporated, it was far removed from the county seat in Evening Shade. Feeling isolated from their government, Hardy residents complained to the General Assembly for a solution to the problems of distance and poor roads. In 1894, the state divided Sharp County into two sections, with Hardy named county seat of the Northern District. A court was established along with other government offices, which increased Hardy’s population to 347 people by 1900. As the twentieth century progressed, better roads made the dual-county-seat structure unnecessary, so Ash Flat was designated the county seat in 1963.
In 1908, Memphis physician George Gillespie Buford and his wife were temporarily stranded in Hardy when their train experienced a mechanical failure. The couple climbed Wahpeton Hill on the south bank of the Spring River and was charmed by the area’s natural beauty. The following year, the Bufords purchased fifty acres on Wahpeton, where they built a summer cottage.
Over the next few years, Buford expanded his land holdings by purchasing the nearby Jordan and East Wahpeton hills. In 1912, the Memphis physician constructed ten cottages for summer visitors on his newly acquired property, which he named Wahpeton Inn. Blytheville (Mississippi County) native L. L. Ward opened a second resort, Rio Vista, in 1932. In addition to the resorts, several Memphis youth organizations established summer camps near Hardy. The Girl Scouts established Camp Kiwani in 1920; Miramichee was built by the YWCA in 1916, and the Boy Scouts constructed Kia Kima in 1916. In addition to the railroad, bus service also connected Hardy to the rest of the world. By 1930, the town held 508 permanent residents, but its visitor population swelled to 1,000 per day between July and September.
The tourism boom spawned by Wahpeton, Rio Vista, and the summer camps in turn led to economic growth. By 1920, two blocks of Main Street were filled with several businesses, including a bank, two cafés, two drug stores, a Ford automobile dealership, and a grocery. Town leaders—perhaps most notably drugstore-owner William Johnston—tirelessly promoted Hardy as a place where city dwellers could find relaxation. In an interview with a Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter, Johnston boasted that Hardy had the “finest fishing in the world….” Although most residents welcomed tourists, some townspeople found it difficult to adjust as the average population increased by thousands during the summer months. In 1935, café owner Tennie Meeker exclaimed: “You take a big trainload of people and dump them down suddenly in a small town like Hardy, and it nearly works everybody to death.”
As the twentieth century progressed, tourists increasingly relied on automobiles to travel to the Spring River area. Resting near the intersection of national highways 62 and 63, Hardy was easily accessible for those who traveled by car. When large-scale federal highway construction began in the 1950s, the tourism population shifted from long-term visitors to those looking for a weekend getaway. Recognizing this trend, the Wahpeton resort individually sold its cottages in 1953. The established tourism industry in Hardy was augmented in 1955 with the construction of retirement homes by West Memphis (Crittenden County) developer John Cooper. The founding of Cherokee Village (Sharp County) increased tourism to the Ozark foothills, and within a decade, the Hardy area was recognized as an important retirement center. In 1968, the Arkansaw Traveller Folk Theater was established in Hardy to preserve the culture of the Ozarks. When the railroad depot closed in the 1970s, some Main Street businesses relocated. This relocation accelerated when the Spring River flooded in December 1982. In their place, shops specializing in antiques and crafts were opened, which, along with the draw of the Ozarks’ natural beauty, has helped Hardy remain a popular tourist destination.
For additional information:
Moore, Caruth Shaver. Early History of Evening Shade and Sharp County. Evening Shade, AR: 1979
The Timely Club. The Hardy History. Batesville, AR: Riverside Graphics, 1980.
The Spring River, which begins in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, flows through Hardy. The Spring River flows into the Black River, which flows into the White River, and the White River eventually flows into the Mississippi River.
The Spring River is a 57 mile (92 km) long river which flows through the U.S. states of Missouri and Arkansas.
The Spring River consists of two branches, the South Fork of the Spring River and the Spring River proper.
The South Fork of the Spring River starts in Howell County, Missouri and flows south through Fulton and Sharp counties in Arkansas. The South Fork of the Spring River joins the Spring River proper near the town of Hardy, Arkansas. The South Fork is a quiet stream with gravelly bars that are ideal for camping.
The Spring River proper begins at Mammoth Spring located at Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. Mammoth Spring is the outlet of an underground river that runs from Missouri into Arkansas. Over 9.78 million gallons per hour (10 m³/s) flow out of the massive spring and forms the Spring River. Being spring fed, the river is extremely cold at a constant 58 °F (14 °C) and very clear.
The Spring River proper is a popular destination for tourists, canoers, and for riding inner tubes ("toobers"). The most popular stretch of the river is between Mammoth Spring and the tourist town of Hardy.
There are a variety of outfitters along the river who provide supplies, canoe rental, and shuttle services in the area between Mammoth Spring and Hardy. Several resorts provide lodging for the tourist.
The Spring River has a diverse population of fish including trout, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, redear sunfish, and tiger muskies. A state record tiger muskie weighing 23 lb 12 oz (10.8 kg) was caught in the river in 1995. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission maintains a trout hatchery on the river and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service operates another on the river near Mammoth Spring.
The Spring River area has been the subject of several controversies. Property owners on the river and surrounding communities have had their properties repossessed after purchasing them from the Spring River Beach Club. The owner of the Spring River Beach Club took out second mortgages on the properties and did not make the payments forcing the lending banks to foreclose on the properties. During Memorial Day weekend in 2007, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began patrolling Spring River looking for patrons and visitors littering and conducting lewdness as many people began complaining of a Mardi Gras-like scene.
U.S. Highway 63 is the main highway which runs through the town. In its course through Arkansas, Highway 63 runs from the Missouri State Line at Mammoth Spring to connect with Interstate 55 near Gilmore, Arkansas.
When roads were poor and travel much more difficult than today, Hardy was one of two county seats of Sharp County. The other was Evening Shade. In 1963, Ash Flat was named the county seat, and Hardy and Evening Shade lost that designation.
Hardy is served by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. Formerly, the railroad through Hardy was part of the Frisco (St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad) which had about 5,000 miles of trackage, and served Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. In 1980, the much larger Burlington Northern bought out the Frisco and integrated it into its own system, and the Frisco ceased to exist.
It has several lakefront communities and subdivisions, including Woodland Hills.
Hardy, AR, which grew from a railroad construction camp in 1884, has retained its quaint turn-of-the-century appearance along Main Street. In fact, Hardy's central downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places and hasn't changed much since Model-T days. New growth and attractions have located at the edges of town, leaving a tiny mecca for craft and antique shopping in the heart of town. The little town of Hardy, AR boasts three museums, summer musical shows, bed and breakfast inns and several festivals each year. Cherokee Village, the state's first resort/retirement settlement, is just southwest of town, offering lake activities and two championship golf courses.
The Spring River, which is fed by Mammoth Spring and is ideal for trout fishing and reliable year-round floating, is also near Hardy, Arkansas.
Slip into the enchantment of the unspoiled Arkansas Ozarks at the quaint mountain village of Hardy, Arkansas and you’ll stay under its charm forever. Icy mountain rivers, pristine natural surroundings, and picture-postcard shops stuffed with collectibles and crafts from local artisans beckon you to leave the city strife behind. Time seems to move slower up in the hills as you glide a canoe through the rippling water, cast a fly towards a trophy trout, or rock gently on the porch of a Victorian styled B&B, lemonade in hand.
xxxxxCome stay a spell with us. Whether you’re parking your RV on the banks of the river, barbequing at a riverside cabin, or tucked into a cozy Inn, you’ll feel your cares slip away as you ease into the mountain rhythm.
It’s the Arkansas Ozarks experience you’ve always wanted — unhurried and unhassled. You’ll always come home to Hardy, Arkansas..
The Charm of the People
Bright smiles, country hospitality, and a few tall tales are what you’ll find when you’re greeted by the people of Historic Hardy. Many are descendents of the original pioneer settlers. Others came from all parts of the country, drawn by the awe-inspiring beauty of the area.
Stroll down through the Main Street Shops. You’ll still see native craftsmen practicing their vocations in pottery, leatherworking, furniture, musical instruments, quilts and more. Take a seat along the covered walkway. It won’t be long before someone will strike up a conversation.
The Spring River
Rated as one of Arkansas’ best float streams, the scenic Spring River is fed by the icy waters of the Mammoth Spring, just a few miles north of Hardy. The river’s white water shoals and rushing falls challenge the canoeist's skills while the constant water flow from the spring makes it a good canoeing, kayaking, and rafting stream year-round. The South fork of the river is a mild, beautiful warm water stream with excellent scenery ideal for a leisurely float trip.
The Spring River’s cold waters make it one of the top spots for rainbow trout in Arkansas. Fly-fishing is a popular sport year-round as anglers go after trophy fish. In the warmer stretches of the river, champion Bass, Walleye, and the occasional Tiger Muskie reward the wily fishermen.
Everything you need for an exciting river adventure is available from local suppliers, including canoe and Kayak rentals, guided fishing and hunting trips, rods, reels, flyfishing tackle and accessories, clothing, and Arkansas fishing licenses.
Originally settled in the 1880s, pioneers were drawn to the Northeast Arkansas area not only for its beauty but also for the great abundance of fresh water, timber for cabins and fuel, natural fruits and nuts, wild game, and fish to nurture and feed growing families. Early settlers had to be craftsmen to make their own furniture, tools, clothing, leather goods and musical instruments. In Hardy, they found all they needed for a good life.
An official town was formed after the railroad came through the area along the river. The railroad needed supplies and services as the trains stopped en route and the town grew up to serve those needs. When a postoffice was established in 1883, a name was needed. The Federal government named the town for 25-year-old James A Hardy, Jr., a subcontractor for the railroad. It is said young Hardy had saved his boss’s life from a gang of angry railroad workers and in gratitude, the boss wrote Washington supporting the name "Hardy" for the community.
In the roaring ’20s and the Jazz-age ’30s, Hardy became a popular summer resort for the wealthy of nearby Memphis, Tennessee. Many built summer homes along the river’s banks or on the tall bluffs while others built resorts, scouting camps, and church camps for visitors to escape the Memphis heat in the cool mountains. Later, many of these developments became the striving retirement communities that ring the Hardy area.
Virtually unchanged since the 1920's, this village is home to antique stores, gift shops, cafe's and craft shops. It is near the Spring River. Hardy is located at the junction of highways 62 / 63 / 412.
With a population of less than 1,000 people, it is small, friendly and charming. Heading east out of Hardy on highway 412 takes you on a scenic drive, but anywhere you go in this area is scenic.
1908 Sears Runabout
VINTAGE MOTORCAR MUSEUM
A private collection featuring more than 50 vehicles from a 1908 Sears Runabout to a 1981 DeLorean.
W. Main St. Open Daily. (870) 856-4884
Downtown Hardy, AR pictures,