Part of Rush, Arkansas, the only ghost town located between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, will be “live” again soon, once a new National Park Service project is completed.
The old Hicks Hotel and Hicks General Store in Rush will be digitally reconstructed by University of Arkansas researchers as part of a project spearheaded by the National Park Service that will include a website by the end of the year. Funding was provided by the National Park Services’ Midwest Archeological Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Kimball Erdman, a UA landscape architecture associate professor, is heading the Hicks Site Digital Interpretation, a research project that mirrors Erdman’s interest in the history and preservation of designed and vernacular landscapes.
Workers went to Rush to inspect and measure the ruins and found other man-made features, such as concrete flower beds and a “cattle dip” near the barn, even though Erdman says “the historical landscape character of the Hicks property has faded almost beyond recognition. Present conditions of the site make interpretation of the mining era difficult at best…”
A thriving town because of a local zinc mine, Rush had about 5,000 inhabitants during World War I but now visitors may not even notice much about the long-abandoned wooden buildings and broken stone walls found there, as the town declined steadily after the zinc price dropped after the war.
In 1903, the Hicks family bought the Rush hotel, making a permanent mark on Rush. In 1972 that area became part of the Buffalo National River park area, and the 1,316-acre Rush Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.