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Photo Left:  Jackson Military Road cut exiting Washington, Arkansas, to the North East (2005)

This web site is intended to provide information for students and classrooms that have

interest in the route and history of the Old Southwest Trail in Arkansas.




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Why the Military Road of 1831?

Evidence suggests that prior to an official survey and development of this road in 1831, the route, usually referred to as the Southwest Trail, was a matrix of roads, footpaths, cut-offs, along with winter and summer detours.  The Military Road of 1831, however, put a "line in the dirt", so to speak, from which all research can have a reference for understanding. 

Secondly, the widespread use of the word "Southwest Trail" seems to be a 20th century phenomenon. 

Third, there are a number of historical groups who have devoted themselves to memorials that refer to the "Southwest Trail".  Some of the markers are very accurately placed,  while others are in need of additional research.

Finally, there are many roads that are part of the matrix that offer insight into the road.  For example, G. W. Featherstonaugh, upon leaving what is now the town of Pleasant Plains (Independence County) was given advice to go a different way than the blazed one,  suggesting it might add to his convenience.  It turned into an extreme disappointment.  Also, there is evidence to suggest that the "Southwest Trail" might have had cut offs, or extensions. that may add dimension to this research.  One could be the descent into Cadron, along the old Cadron Road.  Another might have been the upper, middle and lower Hot Springs roads.  Research suggests that there were three different routes used in the French and Spanish colonial periods that might have been the roads people took toward the southwest from Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and other more distant places.



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Last modified: 01/14/13