Cadron Blockhouse

cadron-blockhouseWhere the Cadron Creek and Arkansas River converge, there was once an early settlement of about 35 families. This area had been laid out in 1818 as a village by John McElmurray, a settler and trader. He had arrived earlier, then later partnered with three others in platting about 64 acres at the mouth of the Cadron Creek.

The 16th Regiment of Foote at the Cadron Blockhouse, Faulkner County Arkansas (as published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 10/12/14)
“With the Union Jack flying from the window of the Cadron blockhouse, members of the 16th Regiment of Foote from Arkadelphia portray British soldiers during a 2013 living-history event.” (as published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 10/12/14)
The area is thought to have had a central hub surrounded by several “blocks.” It would become part of the Butterfield Overland trail.

It seemed to be a promising site for growth, and, in fact, McElmurray built a blockhouse that served as a fort, his residence. a tavern and fur-trading business with the French and Cherokees. Cherokee Indians lived on their own land to the northwest.

The town was not to find success, mainly for political reasons that involved the possibility of Cadron becoming the territorial capital and the county seat of Pulaski County. In 1821 the legislature vote went in favor of Little Rock as the seat of government.

At the Cadron Blockhouse (Photo by Nick Hilleman as published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 6/20/13)
Photo by Nick Hilleman as published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 6/20/13
Cadron also had a chance to be the county seat in Conway County in 1825, but lost that as well.

McElmurray died in 1827, and the fur trade dwindled after the Indian Removal from Arkansas in 1828 (Cherokee Trail of Tears).

The village was abandoned by 1831.

In 1834, a group of Cherokee moving to Oklahoma became stranded at Cadron by low water. Cholera struck and many of the Indians died. A 1991 Faulkner County Historical Society cemetery census accounts for 44 Indian graves, 36 that are unable to be identified and likely more that are unmarked.

Fireplace Cooking at the Cadron BlockhouseIn 1976, as the county celebrated the nation’s bicentennial, the society joined with the Conway Chamber of Commerce and the Army Corps of Engineers to create the Cadron Settlement Park.

It would feature a replica of a blockhouse built as described by visiting English naturalist, Thomas Nuttall, in about 1820. The structure, built with cypress walls and two massive fireplaces, was dedicated in 1979. In 1991, vandals destroyed the building and it was razed.

Young visitors enjoy the Cadron Blockhouse, Faulkner County Arkansas (photo from OurFamiliesUntoldStories.com by Susie Higginbotham, used with permission)
Young visitors enjoy the Cadron Blockhouse (photo from OurFamiliesUntoldStories.com by Susie Higginbotham, used with permission)
The society and the chamber once more combined forces to create a second reconstruction that was finished in 1998.

The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and is now leased from the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers by the City of Conway.