One of the most interesting towns I've had the pleasure of visiting was way off the beaten path. Located about an hour's drive east of Bentonville, Arkansas and an hour southwest of Branson, Missouri, Eureka Springs is a most unexpected surprise if you're just passing through. The town has a population of 2,000 but the cozy-yet-bustling Main Street will have you thinking the community is much larger.
The highlight of the community is its vibrant commercial district but a large attraction is the Thorncrown Chapel, which has been noted as extraordinary in various travel guides. There's also a railway museum!
I will be the first to admit that this place ain't too easy to navigate:
This is largely due to the fact that it is built on a unique swath of mountainous terrain, its roads winding around hills and cliffs, with some buildings having multiple entrances from different floors to different streets. All road intersections occur at bizarre oblique angles. The town was, of course, built around springs that had been heralded by its initial settlers as magical. The rumors had so spread that at one point during the late 19th century (according to Wikipedia, I couldn't find the census statistics) the city was Arkansas's second largest (with only Little Rock being bigger).
How this town was built I'm still amazed. Buildings were built on steep slopes, into hills, above and through ridiculously interesting rock formations... This is not at all unusual there:
And believe you me, Eureka Springs definitely earns its nickname of "The Stair-Step Town."
My favorite part of the city was Spring Street. No Mickey D's here; the street is flanked with enough stores of artisinal vendors to make a hipster from Brooklyn jealous.
Basin Spring Park is a unique venue with stunning exposed rock walls and artwork and sculptures around every corner.
Ah, yes, the post office! Eureka Springs's post office was established October 21, 1879 and has been housed at its current site for most of that time. The Eureka Springs post office is located a block off the Spring Street drag and was built in 1916 with federal Treasury Department funds. The stately building has old-style P.O. boxes. This said, renovations have been undertaken. Regardless, it's good to see that this building is still in service.
Until next time,