Scott, AR 72142
GPS: 34.699669 / -92.099847
The small farming community of Scott is rich in both agriculture and heritage. Located along Ark. 165 approximately 20 miles southeast of Little Rock, Scott has an “Old South” feel fostered by an abundance of history. One of the finest examples of individuals working to save their heritage is the Scott Plantation Settlement along Alexander Road. Over 13 buildings moved in from the surrounding area comprise what is billed as a “typical Arkansas plantation.” Some of the structures on-site include a hand-hewn cypress corncrib, an 1840s log cabin, a wash house, several tenant houses, a railroad depot, and a blacksmith shop.
Down the road a bit on Ark. 161 is the restored brick building which was originally the old Steele-Dortch Store. Today it serves as the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park, a facility that details the role of cotton in Arkansas's history and economy. The museum includes the circa 1912 store and surrounding grounds, a nearby warehouse, and a collection of vintage farm equipment.
A mere "stone's throw" from the museum stands an Arkansas landmark. Cotham's Mercantile, an old general store and now a restaurant, looks much the same as it has since being constructed in 1917, but its current claim to fame is its food. "Where the Elite Meet to Eat," the eatery's motto, is easily backed up by the photos adorning the walls. There's nothing fancy here, just plain down-home cooking like fried catfish, hush puppies, pork chops, chicken and dumplings, daily plate lunch specials, and a signature dish: the "hubcap" hamburger, so named because of its size.
There are other notable sights in Scott. For travelers not deterred by dirt roads, a visit to Marlsgate is worth the trek. Located on the shores of Bearskin Lake, it was a plantation home owned by the Dortch family. Though the stately home is open only for group tours and special occasions such as weddings, receptions and luncheons, it's worth a drive-by just to view what was once the centerpiece of one of Arkansas's major plantations. And from April through November the J&P Ranch offers hay rides, horseback riding, a petting zoo, a playground, and a pumpkin patch in season.
Continuing south on U.S. 165 from Scott, travelers come to an oddity for this region: an apparent hillock in the flat terrain, visible on the highway's right side. It is a part of what is now Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, which preserves one of the largest Native American mound complexes in the lower valley of the Mississippi River. The site was home to people of the Plum Bayou culture and is believed to have been occupied from 650-1050 A.D.