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 Swamppoodle 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.
Native son H. Ross Perot donated much cash to resurrect the beautiful Saenger Theater in downtown Texarkana, Texas.
Toe the Line in Texarkana
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.
Texarkana's Union
Station has seen
better days. It is
now only open
when
Amtrak's
Texas Eagle  makes
two daily stops in

Texarkana... one on
the
way to Chicago,
the other on the
way to Dallas.
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.
Texarkana's Museum of Regional
History
displays a great collection of
pre-Columbian Caddoan artifacts.
Learn more about southwestern
Arkansas in
The Red River Valley of
Arkansas: Gateway to the Southwest
Nights are
a-twilighting on the
Arkansas side.
This
sign sits along the
Bankhead Highway;
there are a few other
gems from the era on
this stretch of road.
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 driving east on
the Bankhead Highway
into Texarkana in the
1930s courtesy of the
Texas Department of
Transportation. Today,
the Bankhead Highway
is US 67. Once it
passes Dallas, its
number becomes US
80; east of Dallas,
US
80
is the
Dixie-Overland
Highway.
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
, built
around 1900.
This bridge over McKinney Bayou was
built to entice more "
good roads"  
projects
; it became part of the Bankhead.
Click on the photo to see when this
gorgeous structure was built.
The "Ace of Clubs" house, located
on the Texas side of the city in
downtown, once anchored a silk
stocking district. It's now a house
museum.
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, US 71 or US
59 to town.
Or, you
can take the Texas
Eagle on Amtrak.