Ancient Crossroads
You can't enter Texarkana and not know that you just came upon a fairly important city. Sprawling and busy, this fabled town, straddling the
Texas and Arkansas state lines, has never been an empty place. Caddo Indians settled here, as a major trade route bisected the area,
which Native Americans, American, Spanish, and French pioneers used as a freeway to each other's empires. Later, railroads paralleled
the trade route and thus created this gateway city, which either welcomes you to Arkansas or Texas, depending on your direction.

Southwestern Queen
Texarkana's time as the "Queen of the Southwest" began when the Texas & Pacific Railroad came through to build its transcontinental line
further west, having met up with tracks laid by the Cairo and Fulton Railroad in 1873. The new-fangled city attracted thousands of
emigrants - both white & black - and prospered from all the timber that surrounded it. Beverly J. Rowe reveals in her book,
Historic
Texarkana
, that the city suffered a number of devastating fires due to the heavy industry. Education and prosperity go hand-in-hand, of
course, but Texarkana was kind of late in the public education game, opening its first free, white school on the east side only in 1884. The
Texas side, and the black schools, followed in 1885. Texarkana now also has a junior college and an extension of Texas A&M- Commerce.

Famous and Infamous
One of the most well-known Texarkanans (if that's what they're called!) was Scott Joplin, the rag-time composer who entertained many in
the Swampoodle Red Light District. His presence paved way for other musicians that the artist community nurtured, like Lead Belly
Ledbetter, Louis Armstrong, and others. H. Ross Perot is yet another notable Texarkanan. The former presidential candidate and
multi-billionaire assisted in saving and restoring the "Gateway to the West" Theater, built in 1924, and now renamed the Perot Theater. A
more notorious Texarkana "resident" was the
Texarkana Phantom, who killed five people on Lovers Lane in the late 1940s. He was never
caught...

Cross the Line at Any Time. Hey, that's a rhyme!
Texarkana's main drag is State Line Avenue, which not only serves as a division for the states, but as a municipal divider as well. The post
office/federal building sits smack-dab in the middle of the road. It's down this road (or around it, a block or two) that you'll find most of
Texarkana's attractions: the
Museum of Regional History; Discovery Place Children's Museum; and the Ace of Clubs House.
Toe the Line in Texarkana
Amtrak's Texas Eagle still makes two daily stops in Texarkana... one on the way to Chicago, the other on the way to Dallas. Yet the Union Depot is
in horrible condition, with holes in the window, the clock missing, and a very close proximity to the Bowie County Correctional Facility. No
offense, Texarkana, but that's not really the first impression you want travelers to get when they arrive in your fair city?
Nights are a-twilighting on the Arkansas side.
Texarkana, either named for a steamboat that plied the Red River, a locally bottled liquor, or
a railroad executive who thought he was really clever, sits at an ancient Caddoan trade
route. Today, you can take US 82, US 67 (Bankhead Highway), US 71 or US 59 to town. If you're
in a hurry, you can take Interstate 30, but who the heck would want to?!
Texarkana's Museum of Regional History displays a great collection of
pre-Columbian Caddoan artifacts.
Learn more about southwestern Arkansas in my new book, The
Red River Valley of Arkansas: Gateway to the Southwest
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
SOAP BOX ALERT * SOAP BOX ALERT * SOAP BOX ALERT * SOAP BOX ALERT * SOAP BOX
As usual, I came to Texarkana using the old highways, and not the Interstate. This may be why I was perplexed as I traveled into the city
center. Along the Interstate, populated by tall pine trees, big-box stores, and chain restaurants, Texarkana is shiny and new. Along US 67 or
US 82, however, Texarkana reveals itself as a struggling southwestern city, with a lot of its former glory marred by decay. I had to shake my
head the entire time I visited downtown... not because I was disappointed, but because once again, an Interstate sucked the life blood
from the very place it was meant to serve. Thus, I left Texarkana feeling a little sad. That's not to say that it isn't a splendid place to visit, but
man, do I HATE Interstates.
According to an essay on the hotel by Lisa Donnelly, Bonnie Parker once ate a sandwich in the hotel's coffee shop (this isn't the only event that
happened here, but still). Opened in 1925, the hotel (which sits behind the city's historical museum) is no longer used but still features some
wonderful art-deco architecture on the inside.  Hotel Grim is on the Texas side of Texarkana. Barely.
In 1980, the Texas Historical Commission surveyed the remaining round house for the Cotton Belt (St. Louis & Southwestern Railway) line. At
one point, Texarkana had four round houses, but most are gone. This one remains, however - click on the photo to see a Google Map aerial.
The original Union Station in Texarkana was replaced with a modern, federal-style depot in the 1920s. The depot also had three waiting rooms:
one for whites, one for black Arkansans, and one for black Texans, because each state had to provide "separate but equal" accommodations.
A view of driving east on the Bankhead Highway into Texarkana in the 1930s (TX DOT).
Native son H. Ross Perot donated much cash to resurrect the beautiful Saenger Theater in downtown Texarkana, Texas.
One of the oldest buildings still standing in Texarkana on the Arkansas side is this absolutely beautiful and very original grocery warehouse.
The Ritchie Grocery/ Texas Produce Company occupied this massive brick building was built around 1900.
The north side of the old grocery building holds all sorts of cool surprises.
Amtrak's Texas Eagle stops twice daily (going east, or going west) in downtown Texarkana on its way to either Los Angeles or Chicago.
If you prefer to travel by car rather than train, you could always partake in a cruise up or down the Bankhead Highway (originally TX 1, now US
67. After Dallas, it becomes
US 80 after it merges with the Dixie Overland Highway). You can travel to Washington D.C. or San Diego! Click on
the photo to see when this gorgeous structure was built.
How to get there