Thursday, July 3, 2008

Old Hotel Wilhelmina in Arkansas

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Postcards are just like newspapers and blogs; you can not always believe what they say. Today's post card is an excellent example. When I originally listed this postcard on my website, I did not verify the location cited on the front of the card and being a transplanted Texan in Georgia, I had no clue that the information was wrong. As is often the case, a customer from Mena Arkansas was nice enough to email me and set me straight.

I did some research and found the old Wilhelmina Inn was actually on Rich Mountain in what is now Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena Arkansas. Built at a cost of $100,000 by the Kansas City, Pittsburgh & Gulf Railroad on their route from Kansas City Missouri to Port Arthur Texas, the Victorian inn had the grand opening on 22 June 1898 and was named in honor of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who was crowned in September 1898 although she never stayed there. In less than three years after opening, the railroad went broke and sold the inn to what is now the Kansas City Southern Railroad who failed to maintain it and let it languish until it closed in 1910.

The depression and World War II prevented any help until 1957 when the state created a new state park on the site and replaced the inn with a new lodge which opened on 22 June 1963, 65 years to the day after the original opening. The new lodge was not as grand as the first and also had a short life when a kitchen fire destroyed it ten years later in November 1973.

Arkansas State Parks quickly built a new $3 million dollar lodge on the original site in 1975 which is the feature attraction of the state park today. This postcard is of the original structure and is a 1913 Curt Teich or Curteich postcard and is available in my Missouri listings along with 10,000 additional post cards on my website Moody's' Postcards.

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