Recently, we were talking to an old friend in El Dorado. Knowing us to have been somewhat nomadic in the past few decades, he asked, “Where are y’all living now.” When we replied, Washington, he thought, of course, D.C. or Washington State. We clarified, “Washington, Arkansas.” He said, “Why in the world? There is nothing over there.” We didn’t have time to explain his mistaken impression of our village, so I said, “We are just 30 miles from Texarkana.” He was satisfied with that. Apparently he saw no virtue in the rural and the small.
There is plenty to see and do in Washington, Arkansas. A historic state park encompasses the entire town and the Southwest Arkansas Archives are located in Washington. It is a repository of entertaining and enlightening artifacts, especially old photographs, letters and legal documents. The city also hosts the Pioneer Washington Foundation, a group dedicated to restoring and maintaining old buildings. The Foundation’s Woodlawn House, the Trimble House and the fancifully structured Presbyterian Church are worth the visit.
But this time of year many people favor the two night event, Christmas and Candlelight. This year, the State Park in association with the Archives Board will host the events on the first two Saturdays in December—the 6th and the 13th. The town will be decorated with 19th Century style greenery and candlelight and musical groups will perform in the churches, the WPA Gymnasium and the 1874 Courthouse. The Melody Boys will also perform on the Tavern Restaurant porch in the afternoon. The event opens at 1 p.m. on both Saturdays and the musical programs begin at 5 p.m. Performances range from individual instrumentalists to very large choirs. Most of the large groups are scheduled for the WPA Gym and the Presbyterian Church. The Historic Washington State Park Website posts a schedule of events and printed programs will be available at the Park Gift Shop.
So, there is a lot to look forward to for the next two weekends. But one thing we like to do in Washington is walk, not just for exercise, but for the beauty of the seasons and the historic feel of the town. There is very little traffic and one can find multiple walking routes around town. We like to walk on the old Southwest Trail, which has some significant hills, leg-burners if you keep a good pace. We also enjoy going down to the Pioneer Cemetery. One cannot find a more peaceful place to sit, reflect and enjoy the ambience of history. Our daily walk, though, is a square mile, literally, through the erstwhile residential area. And there is no such thing as going for a walk in Washington. You are always going for a visit, because you run into people out for the same purpose, summer, winter, spring or fall. This is a friendly community, welcoming to all and full of interesting places to see and visit.
So, if someone tells you, “There is nothing over there in Washington,” just say, “Come and see for yourself.” And we are quite close to Texarkana.